When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, the numbers were low and no one really understood the ramifications we were all about to face. Relatively quickly, people began to get furloughed or laid off altogether and money got tight. People were starting to worry about what bills were going to get paid and if they were going to be able to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

The scary thought of getting utilities shut off was alleviated when El Paso Electric announced in mid-March that they were going to suspend disconnection of customer's accounts for non-payment. El Paso Water and Texas Gas soon followed suit. Utility customers have been breathing a little easier for four months, but what about now? How long will suspension of disconnection last and what's going to happen when you have to ultimately pay your bill?

I spoke with representatives of all three utilities and each said that they are still not disconnecting customer's accounts for non-payment, but all three utilities did point out that you will be responsible for paying your bill. The best thing to do is to contact the utilities and make arrangements to pay whatever you can on your bill and set out a plan for how you can pay off your bill in the future.

El Paso Electric said "We are proactively reaching out to customers to help them determine the best course of action when it comes to managing their bill, such as a payment plan or connecting them to organizations that can assist with utility payments." You can click on this link for organizations that EPE refers customers to for payment assistance in Texas and New Mexico.

Texas Gas reps said they have not begun disconnecting customer's accounts since they suspended that back in March. You can click here for the Texas Gas website and how they can help you get through this tough time and make sure your bill gets paid.

According to El Paso Water officials they have "accumulated about $3 million in unpaid balances from customers who are 60+ days late." The utility applied for a $500,000 CARES Act grant from the City to help customers with overdue water bills. All of the money from the grant will be dedicated to helping eligible EP Water customers pay their water bills. The average customer could see a $200 credit, but you will have to qualify for the grant money and it is on a first-come, first-served basis. Click on El Paso Water's website for more information on how to qualify for the grant money. You can also call 915-594-5500 for more information.

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