TYLER - The state will no longer help Texans in need pay their electric bills.
Lite-Up Texas, a program that offered discounts to thousands of underprivileged families since its inception in 1999, has run out of money.
The energy bill discounts ended August 31 after state legislators decided in 2013 not to extend funding for the program.
About 700-thousand households took advantage of Lite-Up Texas in 2015 – including that of Tyler resident James Harris.
“I didn't even know what really had happened until I called my light company to see why [the bill] had jumped so high,” said Harris.
Though information about Harris’ energy usage was not available Wednesday, his TXU bill jumped from $136 in August to nearly $800 in September – the first month without the need-based discount – according to information from PATH.
“’I was like ‘okay, what am I going to do?’ he said. “I need electricity to live… my kids... you have to try to find some way to make it happen.”
He turned to People Attempting to Help (PATH), which helps East Texans with a variety of basic needs.
“Last month was our busiest month ever,” said Greg Grubb, executive director of PATH.
Under TXU’s Energy Aid program, the agency can help struggling TXU customers pay one electric bill each calendar year.
“We anticipate seeing more and more electric customers looking for assistance,” Grubb said.
While Energy Aid will not provide monthly assistance – like Harris previously received under Lite-Up – he expressed his gratitude for the help.
In addition to PATH, the Greater East Texas Community Action Program offers financial help under the Energy Aid program.
For more information on where to find help paying an energy bill, Texans can call 211 toll-free.
(© 2016 KYTX)