A benefit that long-term care communities have in Texas is the ability to be registered for priority power restoration following a loss of power. Under Texas Utilities Code 38.072, Assisted Living communities and other types of long-term care have the same status as priority power restoration that a hospital has.

However, to be considered for priority power restoration, an Assisted Living community, including smaller-sized four or five-bedroom homes, must be listed as either a commercial or business customers with their utility providers.

Assisted Living communities (ALs) in areas with retail electric competition (i.e., where there is a choice of electrical utility providers), the Assisted Living community will likely have both a retail electric provider (the company which reads meters and manages billing) as well as a transmission and distribution utility provider (lines and poles). ALs will need to inform all their relevant companies of their priority restoration status. ALs can find the name of their transmission and distribution utility by looking on their electric bills.

Here’s a few tips from TALA’s VP of Public Policy Carmen Tilton.

  1. Find your transmission and distribution utility- look at the electric bill for the Assisted Living community. If the community is in Austin or San Antonio, the TDU is city owned and is likely to be Austin Energy or CPS Energy respectively.
  2. Go onto the website for the TDU and look for “critical infrastructure” or “critical load.”
  3. If you look around the website, be sure to check the Business customers area, and if you don’t find a link to more information for critical load/priority restoration customers, then call the business customer service phone number and speak to someone.
  4. Most of the larger transmission and distribution utilities have a registration form that they will want the community to submit before there is a weather event.
  5. The law that applies to Assisted Living communities is Texas Utilities Code 38.072:Sec. 38.072. PRIORITIES FOR POWER RESTORATION TO CERTAIN MEDICAL FACILITIES. (a)  In this section: "Assisted living facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 247.002, Health and Safety Code. "End stage renal disease facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 251.001, Health and Safety Code. "Extended power outage" has the meaning assigned by Section 13.1395, Water Code. "Hospice services" has the meaning assigned by Section 142.001, Health and Safety Code. "Nursing facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 242.301, Health and Safety Code.

The commission by rule shall require an electric utility to give to the following the same priority that it gives to a hospital in the utility's emergency operations plan for restoring power after an extended power outage: a nursing facility; an assisted living facility; an end stage renal disease facility; and a facility that provides hospice services.

The rules adopted by the commission under Subsection (b) must allow an electric utility to exercise the electric utility's discretion to prioritize power restoration for a facility after an extended power outage in accordance with the facility's needs and with the characteristics of the geographic area in which power must be restored.

A municipally owned utility shall report the emergency operations plan for restoring power to a facility listed in Subsection (b) to the municipality's governing body or the body vested with the power to manage and operate the municipally owned utility.

An electric cooperative shall report the emergency operations plan for restoring power to a facility listed in Subsection (b) to the board of directors of the electric cooperative.

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 640 (S.B. 937), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011.

Amended by: Acts 2021, 87th Leg., R.S., Ch. 961 (S.B. 1876), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2021.

It is possible that AL communities might still experience blackouts or a power outage. What this means is that when there is an electrical disruption, your community has the same prioritization that the utility gives to other significant healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, when figuring out where to send crews to restore power.

TALA has compiled a list of resources exclusively for TALA members. This information is available in the members section of the website.