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LITE UP Texas possibly extended through 2017

Update (09/2016): Although legislation passed that extended the period over which the balance of the LITE UP Texas system benefit fund was to be eliminated, the Lite-Up fund has been depleted and electric discounts have ended as of August 31, 2016.

June 26, 2015—Hundreds of thousands of low-income Texans may be able to look forward to continuing energy support from the LITE UP Texas program until the end of the 2017 fiscal year thanks to recently passed legislation. House Bill 1101, recently signed into immediate effect by Gov. Greg Abbott, extends the period over which the balance of the LITE UP Texas system benefit fund is to be eliminated.

The funds, gathered by a mandatory charge on Texas electricity customers as a part of the 1999 electricity deregulation law, provide qualifying low-income households with up to 15 percent of their electricity bills in the hot summer months. HB 1101 ensures that the remaining $328 million gathered from these ratepayer charges will continue to benefit Texas's low-income households instead of being diverted into the state's general fund. This year had been the final year the Public Utility Commission had legislative approval to disburse the funds.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, author of the bill, stated that the passing of HB 1101 would mean a great deal for Texas senior citizens and low-income households, especially during the summer months. He also stated that the discount will rise from 15 percent to about 40 percent next summer as the remaining dollars are available to be spent through August 2017.

It will be up to future Legislatures to take further action as Rep. Taylor plans to retire from the state House and fun for Houston mayor.

Sources: Texas Legislature Online, media sources