Groups Want to Bar Power Shut-offs for Elderly

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Consumer advocates want the state to block electric providers from cutting power to needy customers who fall behind on payments this summer.

The Texas Public Utility Commission is expected to consider the request today.

Supporters argue that vulnerable Texans are endangered by rising electricity rates and hot weather.

They also point to the Legislature's decision last year to redirect funds that had been set aside to help the needy pay their bills.

Electricity retailers are opposed to the request. They say customers are protected by federal and private programs that help people who are behind on their bills.

Advocates say those programs aren't enough. They want the commission to assure that seniors, the medically needy and people who pay at least part of their bills have service until October first.