TERRELL, TEXAS — The City of Terrell began shutting off water to residential homes today for nonpayment, despite an order by the Texas Public Utilities Commission decision on Thursday to ban utilities from cutting off power and water services to Texans who have lost jobs and income during the COVID-19 crisis. The city is now getting them all reconnected.
The order was reportedly intended to provide relief to residents worried about keeping their lights and water on as they face reduced work hours and income for the next six months, however, Terrell residents say that city crews began shutting off water this morning.
A City hall representative told inForney.com by phone that approximately 145 houses had been scheduled for shut off and that customers would need to fill out a form and “apply for a COVID waiver.”
inForney.com has reached out to city officials with lots of questions and so far have received only one response.
“We have said yes to every deferral request we have received,” says Allison Walker, the city’s public information officer.
“As soon as I was made aware of this earlier today I contacted our [city] staff. All water turned off will be turned back on ASAP,” Terrell City Council Place 3 Mayrani Velazquez tells inForney.com. “This should have never happened.”
In a press release issued last week, the Public Utility Commission of Texas responded to Governor Abbott’s declaration of emergency with a series of measures intended to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 hardships on power, water and sewer customers across the state.
“As our state takes appropriately aggressive measures to stem the tide of a disease with outsize potential to spread and harm our citizens, we must include provisions to assist families at increased risk of losing power, water and sewer service,” said Chairman Walker of the Texas Public Utilities Commission on Thursday. “This approach strikes the appropriate balance of providing immediate assistance to eligible residential customers experiencing COVID19-related hardship while ensuring the long-term viability of our state’s competitive electricity market.”
This is a developing story.