The Senate has passed Senate Bill 981, a bill giving electric utilities permission to help severely-burned war veterans with their high electric bills during the hot Texas summers.
A bill in the 2011 Legislature was passed for the same purpose, but it targeted only CPS Energy in San Antonio.
While burned veterans live in San Antonio for a long period of time during their surgeries and post-op therapy at the San Antonio Military Medical Center burn center, Sen. Leticia Van De Putte said it really wasn’t practical to limit the assistance just to San Antonio.
"Only 19 war veterans since the passage of that bill are on the discount program, and our Veterans Coalition and the veterans themselves who have been burned said, 'I’d like to go back to my hometown in Houston,' or 'I’d like to move back to where my parents are up in West Texas,'" Van De Putte said.
The Veterans Coalition convinced the Senate to prioritize the bill for the entire state, because all Texas summers are hot.
Van de Putte said the bill doesn’t mandate the utilities do this, but she thinks it will have broad support because of the need of the burned veterans to remain in cool temperatures.
"Think about it. When a normal person needs to cool down, they perspire, but because of the burns, our war veterans do not have sweat glands," Van De Putte said.
The legislation allows each utility to reduce the severely burned veteran’s electric bill and absorb the difference. For CPS, that has meant a $90 discount each month during the four hottest months of the year.