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$30 million for utility bill relief approved by San Antonio leaders | Here's who qualifies

People behind on their bills will have that money applied to their accounts by the end of the year.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio City Council Thursday moved to allocate $30 million in federal coronavirus aid to wipe out some utility debt. 

CPS Energy and SAWS customers who are past-due and experienced pandemic-related money problems qualify. They must enroll in an affordability or payment plan. 

CPS and SAWS may wipe out all debt for customers who earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty limit. All other customers are eligible for up to $1,000 off their electricity bill and up to $700 off their water bill. 

It is the first pandemic-related aid program focused solely on utility bills, CPS Energy's KJ Feder said. 

"Customers who live below the poverty level feel the stress of low income or loss of income a lot more greatly than people who live above the poverty line," Feder said. "No customer has to be disconnected. Don't be afraid to call us."

City leaders noted that too many delinquent customers are not enrolled in payoff plans. The utilities hope the new program will encourage more people to participate, since customers enrolled in payoff plans cannot be disconnected. 

Council members noted that the $30 million will not cover all past-due balances. 

As of Oct. 31, CPS is owed $141 million by roughly 185,000 customers. About 56,000 residential customers are at least 60 days behind on SAWS payments and owe a combined $49.6 million. 

"Shouldn't we be adding more to this on the utilities side?" councilman Clayton Perry asked. 

Councilmembers could expand the fund at a later date, but city Chief Financial Officer Ben Gorzell noted that the program targets customers eligible for disconnection and not customers who are simply past-due. 

Both CPS and SAWS will begin processing bill credits this week. Applications open tomorrow. 

Customers will need to present proof of income. They can self-attest to COVID-related money problems. 

“Maybe they lost their job, they were on unemployment, some other factor, significant medical bills, other things we can point back to COVID. We just want to make sure we have documentation in place to substantiate eligibility,” Gorzell said.

Feder noted that CPS and SAWS do not demand payment over the phone or call to threaten disconnection. 

How to apply for CPS Energy Utility Assistance:

How to apply for SAWS Utility Assistance:

Eligibility requirements:

  1. Individuals must show proof of hardship due to COVID-19 within the timeframe of March 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 as well as documentation of household income.
  1. Eligible residents must be enrolled in CPS and/or SAWS affordability or payment plan programs. CPS and SAWS will screen for eligibility and process applications. For more information on how to enroll, visit: cpsenergy.com/assistance and/or https://uplift.saws.org/

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