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Low-Income Families Search for Alternatives after Lite-Up Texas Ends

3 years 10 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, January 10 2017 Jan 10, 2017 January 10, 2017 5:50 PM January 10, 2017 in News

WESLACO - A program to help low-income families pay their energy bills ended, leaving people trying to figure out what to do next.

The program used to cover nearly a third of Texans’ electric bills, including residents from the Rio Grande Valley.

Weslaco resident Frances Medrano said she thought twice about touching her thermostat when temperatures went below freezing over the weekend.  

“I wouldn’t turn on the heat unless it is completely necessary for a short period of time to warm up,” she said.

Medrano said she’s spending more time at home wearing an old jacket. Unable to work, she said she's dealing with several medical conditions on a fixed income.

In September, she noticed her electric bill went up. Lite-Up Texas, a subsidy program that offered electric discounts, came to an end. Medrano was among those affected.

She said her $100 electric bill is now a $140 electric bill. It’s the same situation for many others who request assistance from programs under the Hidalgo County Community Service Agency.

The agency’s supervisor, Mari Gallegos, said the office serves around 8,000 Valley residents a year. She said most clients were affected by the closure of the program.

“Most of our clients that come in are saying, ‘We don’t have that additional help. What can you guys do for us?’” she said.

However, Gallegos said there are still alternatives. She encouraged people to visit the agency and learn what other programs they qualify for.

Medrano said she’ll get through winter only by adjusting her fixed budget and energy consumption.

“I’m gonna take a little bity out of here to put over here, just trying to balance everything out,” she said.

Hidalgo County Community Service Agency said people can apply with them for assistance based on their income. They also offer a list of other local organizations available to help. For more information call 956-383-6240.

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