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New waivers for Austin utility deposits to go to Council

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

At the March 19 meeting of the Electric Utility Commission, Kerry Overton, the chief customer and compliance officer for Austin Energy, presented the commissioners with an overview of Austin Energy’s proposed amendments to its policy on deposit waivers. Currently, most subscribers to Austin Energy are required to put down a security deposit, which the utility views as a deterrent to prevent “late payments and mitigate the City of Austin’s … financial risk in the case of unpaid utility balances.” However, if these new amendments are approved by City Council on April 12, many more people may be able to waive their initial $200 deposit. Customers who were previously unable to obtain waivers but who may now be eligible include those who enroll in auto pay, those over the age of 65, returning active duty service members, victims of domestic abuse, tenant relocation assistance recipients and the medically indigent. Monica Joyner, the process manager for Austin Energy Quality Management, told the commission that based on the studies done on other utilities who have waived their initial deposits, Austin Energy expects to see a reduction in its debt. She explained that customers who are able to save the initial $200 are much more likely to be able to pay their first month’s bill on time, which helps stabilize the utility’s income. Commission Chair Cary Ferchill applauded the suggestion for additional waivers saying, “That’s as close as it comes to a win-win around here.”

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