By Ari Vanrenen
With sweltering heat impacting much of PG&E’s service area, the company is highlighting four financial assistance programs that customers can take advantage of during the hot summer months and throughout the year.
These programs can help customers with discounts on their monthly energy bills, one-time assistance during hard times and energy savings for certain medical conditions.
PG&E meteorologists forecast a return to high temperatures later this week and over the weekend, with some interior locations reaching near or exceeding 105 degrees.
“This summer, our customers have already experienced a heat wave with record temperatures across our service area, requiring them to use more energy to stay comfortable and combat the heat,” said Deborah Affonsa, vice president of Customer Service at PG&E. “We encourage all of our customers to learn more about our programs that can help them save on their energy bills every month during the year – and especially when they need it most.”
Save on monthly bills
PG&E’s California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program gives households discounts on their energy bills, based on income or participation in public assistance programs. Through CARE, PG&E has helped over 1.4 million customers save more than $8.1 billion on their energy bills since 1989.
Yet, PG&E estimates more than 180,000 eligible customers are missing out on the 20 percent or more savings on their monthly electric and gas bills. Compared to 2016, the amount of eligible customers increased the most in Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties. Conversely, a significant amount of eligible customers enrolled in the CARE program in Alameda and Sonoma counties over the past year.
Customers can apply for CARE online at pge.com/CARE or via paper applications that are available through numerous community agencies across PG&E’s service area. Applying is easy and only takes about five minutes. If they qualify, customers will begin receiving the CARE program discount within their next billing cycle.
PG&E encourages CARE customers to also participate in the free Energy Savings Assistance Program to help save more energy and money with energy-saving improvements to maximize energy efficiency in their home — at no cost to them. Families have received a variety of home improvements through the program, including:
- Installing a new energy-efficient refrigerator, furnace or water heater
- Weatherproofing and adding attic insulation to keep their home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter
- Updating to Energy Star advanced LED light bulbs that use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs
Get one-time support during hard times
During a personal or family crisis, the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) program helps low-income families keep their energy on. Sponsored by PG&E and run by The Salvation Army, the program provides and energy credit for up to $300 on the past due bill amount.
Receive energy support for medical conditions
Residential customers requiring electricity-powered medical equipment may qualify for Medical Baseline, which is not dependent on income. Per month, eligible customers can receive an extra baseline allotment of 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity and/or 25 therms of gas.
Medical equipment that qualifies for the program includes respirators, nebulizers, motorized wheelchairs and more. Certification by a doctor is required to participate in the program.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.