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San Antonio utility companies have resumed service disconnections. What does that mean for CPS and SAWS customers with unpaid bills?

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Due to the pandemic and related economic hardships, CPS Energy and San Antonio Water System stopped shutting off service for nonpayment in March 2020. On Friday, after nearly two years, power and water disconnections resumed.

CPS Energy is now owed $150 million in delinquent bills and will take a tiered approach to cutting off service for residential customers, first for those who are not enrolled in an assistance or payment plan and haven't made contact with CPS about their bills.

More than 162,000 residential CPS customers are at least 30 days behind on their bill and the utility's first round of disconnections could leave as many as 76,000 without power. Disconnections for large businesses started in September, and medium and small businesses can have service turned off as of Oct. 1.

San Antonio Water System also began cutting off water and sewer service at the beginning of October for delinquent customers who have not set up payment plans. The water utility has about 16,000 residential customers with past-due bills.

About 6,000 SAWS customers with debts less than $2,000 were automatically enrolled in a 4-year payment plan. If they meet its requirements — 18 months of monthly bills paid in full plus 37.5% of their outstanding balance — the rest of what those customers still owe will be forgiven.

How can customers avoid disconnections? What assistance is available? What's being done to inform at-risk customers of their options?

How have past-due accounts impacted CPS’ and SAWS' bottom lines? Are programs on the chopping block or plans on hold due to financial stress?

CPS Energy customers will likely also see a double digit rate increase by spring 2022 due to financial hardships exacerbated by the pandemic and February's winter storm. The utility expects an $81.9 million loss next fiscal year and says a 10% rate increase would generate about $76 million.

What are the drivers behind the need for this proposed rate hike? How much would residential and commercial customers' bills be affected?

What efforts have San Antonio's utility companies made to build disaster resiliency and address issues exposed by Winter Storm Uri in February?

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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, October 7.