Although summer does not officially start until June 21, Houston has already seen temperatures rise to the triple digits, bringing dangerous heat to the area.
Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Reliant Energy’s 17th annual Beat the Heat program for the city of Houston during a June 16 press conference. He was joined by Scott Burns, Reliant’s general manager of services and customer experience, as well as Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia and Deborah Moore from the Houston Health Department.
The program is intended to help Houston-area residents stay cool during the summer while helping them manage electricity use and bills. According to Turner, Reliant is donating $75,000 to assist in providing 200 portable air conditioning units and getting cooling devices to senior citizens and those with disabilities—groups who he said often have no means of cooling their homes.
“Heat can be detrimental to lives,” Turner said. “Check on your neighbors and senior citizens.”
Seniors and people with disabilities are the most vulnerable when it comes to the heat, Burns said. He said with fluctuations in electricity bills due to the changing weather, it can get tough to manage a monthly budget for those who are on a fixed income, especially with the current economy. To combat this issue, he said Reliant is committing $1 million in funding for agencies to directly support its customers across Texas.
Anyone in Texas who needs help paying bills can call 211 or visit www.211texas.org.
Burns said Reliant is also putting up 21 Beat the Heat Centers across Houston. These spaces will have air conditioning, activities and refreshments. The facilities are free and will be open through September.
Another $20,000 of Reliant’s donation will go to Precinct2gether, a nonprofit supporting Precinct 2, to help provide 100 air conditioning units to vulnerable members of the community, Garcia said.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña also spoke on the dangers of heat and how it affects the issues the fire department responds to on a daily basis. With the rising temperatures, Peña said it is important now more than ever to pay attention to children, senior citizens and those with disabilities who may be left in a hot car.
According to Moore, Houstonians who need help to cool their homes can call 832-393-4301.
“We want to encourage you to stay safe,” Moore said. “Remember these are hot summer months, so stay hydrated, ventilated, and activate a buddy plan.”