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Number of medically vulnerable registered customers set for disconnection drops significantly

Friday, May 12, 2017 by Sommer Brugal

On Sunday, Austin Energy announced in a memo that 22 “medically vulnerable registered” customers were at the point of disconnection from city utility services. Fortunately, though, as of Tuesday morning, that number is down to just four customers. The Austin Monitor was informed of the change via phone call with Austin Energy Corporate Communications Director Robert Cullick. According to Cullick, about 40 percent of medically vulnerable customers fall into the non-payment category each month. But with the help of Austin Energy and other local agencies and services, many are able to make the necessary payments to remove their name from the list. “We take extra steps to care for our customers,” Cullick said. Much of those efforts are seen in various support programs the department offers, like arranging different payment options, presenting opportunities for support from community partners and agencies, and ensuring customers have a backup plan in place for if and when it becomes necessary. In 2016, for example, through various offered services, all disconnect-eligible participants found assistance and were able to avoid full disconnection. Though nobody enjoys planning for the unexpected, Cullick said “having a backup plan (a medically vulnerable customer) could implement is incredibly important, even just for outages that (may) occur.” While Austin Energy maintains and operates the Medically Vulnerable Registry, Cullick said it’s a function of the city’s Customer Care office. That means disconnected customers lose services not only from Austin Energy, but all other city utility services as well. For the four MVR customers that remain, the disconnection process is set to begin on May 17.

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