SA City Council approves widening eligibility for CPS Energy discount program

The change means more than 29,000 additional San Antonio families will be able to get relief on their energy bills.

SAN ANTONIO — Thousands more San Antonio families can now get assistance on their energy bill after City Council voted unanimously to widen the eligibility pool Thursday morning. 

Currently, in order to qualify, households must meet one of five criteria: 

  • Be 60 years of age or older
  • Have a disability
  • Use life-sustaining medical equipment
  • Have children 18 years old or younger
  • Or have proved their energy bill is more than 10% their annual household income

Previously, a family’s household income must have been at or below 125% the federal poverty level. After City Council approved a new ordinance, the household income requirement is now at or below 150% the federal poverty level.

It means, for example, that a family of four making $46,800 or less per year can now quality for the discount program that’s been around since 2008. Previously, they had to make much less to qualify: $39,000 or less. 

Here’s how other family sizes will be impacted:

“I’m hoping that we get a consensus and we were able to highlight this and speak on how important it is that we take care of those that are kind of struggling after COVID, and also with the growing prices of just about everything,” said Phyllis Viagran, the council member who represents District 3, before the ordinance passed. “This was a long time coming. This is going to help my residents. It’s going to help a lot of residents city-wide.”

The change is temporary, lasting only two years, according to materials presented to City Council by the finance department. The program provides a discount of $13.48 per month on energy bills, and CPS Energy customers are not being charged more for the change. 

“I think the two years is currently (what) we have funding for,” Viagran said. “I think now we’re going to lead into a bigger conversation as we look at CPS, and what we are getting from CPS annually, and see how we can contribute to this program specifically.”

According to city materials, the change means more than 29,000 additional families will be able to take advantage of the assistance program from CPS Energy. The biggest jump in the number of eligible families is in District 9, encompassing the far north side, where 36% more CPS Energy customers will now receive relief on their payments. 

Christian Assistance Ministry (CAM) sees the need firsthand. At the beginning of each month, their waiting room fills up with people looking for help paying their energy bills. 

“Any help that the city can give in decreasing the burden that people are carrying… we are carrying a burden, especially after COVID,” said Diane Trujillo, director of social services with CAM. “With the CPS, many people are playing catch up.  It would relieve the burden for them, for many of them.”

San Antonio City Council will be voting on the proposed ordinance Thursday when it convenes at 9 a.m. at City Hall. The council meeting will be held at City Hall. For more information on CPS Energy’s Affordability Discount Program, click HERE

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