BELTON — Gene Deutscher, director of the Bell County Human Services Department, told the Bell County Commissioners Court at its Monday meeting that the Human Services Department has more than $150,000 available to help Bell County residents who cannot pay their TXU Energy electricity bills.
About $100,000 is available via the department’s Temple office; another $55,000 is available through its Killeen office, Duetscher said.
The announcement came as representatives from TXU presented Deutscher with an award recognizing the county’s involvement in TXU’s energy assistance program.
“This program is available to people with low incomes, senior citizens and the chronically ill,” Bell County Judge Jon Burrows said. “It’s a great program that helps people.”
People in temporary financial crisis because of a lost job, emergency medical bills or other challenges can get help with their TXU energy bill regardless of their recent income, according to a company news release.
The funds come from TXU’s Energy Aid program, which has been in operation for more than 30 years and has provided $84 million to assist more than 455,000 TXU customers.
“We offer a 5-to-1 match for donations,” said Patrick Johnson, an energy assistance manager for TXU. “That means that we match every $1 donated by TXU customers with $5.”
TXU’s level of corporate giving impressed Burrows, who called the program “a pretty good investment.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner John Fisher told Johnson he considers TXU’s assistance program to be head and shoulders above other energy providers.
“We’ll leverage TXU’s program against other companies that want to enter the county,” Fisher said.
Customers in need of assistance are encouraged to contact their provider before the due date to make arrangements and call 211 to connect with agencies that provide bill pay assistance.
In other business, Bell County’s Technology Services Department received an award from the National Association of Counties and the Center for Digital Government.
The award recognized Bell County for coming in third in the nation among counties with a population of 250,000 to 499,000 in the 12th annual Digital Counties Survey.
The awards recognize technology policy and best practices throughout the U.S.’s 3,069 counties.
The awards are presented to the top 10 counties in the National Association of Counties’ four population categories — 500,000 people or more; 250,000 to 499,000 people; 150,000 to 249,000 and up to 150,000.