Assistance programs provide discounts on utility bills, free upgrades for energy-efficiency

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help paying utility billsUtility companies, including , Southern California Gas Co. and Long Beach Energy, can often provide help for customers that have trouble paying their utility bill—if they ask.

Representative from the Southern California utility companies say that as soon as customers realize they may have problems paying their bills, they should contact SCE or The Gas Company to help avoid disconnections and fees that may be required to restore service.

“We are trying to help our customers in need, including those who are unemployed and those having difficulty paying their bills,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president, Customer Solutions, The Gas Company. “We strongly encourage customers to call us before their account is overdue and learn about the available assistance programs we offer.”

“We will help customers come up with a payment plan that works for them,” said Lynda Ziegler, SCE’s senior vice president, Customer Service. “We don’t want those who are already at risk for disconnection to fall further behind. All it takes is a call and we’ll work with the customer to keep their lights on and let them know about programs and services that can help lower their bills in the future.”

SCE and The Gas Company offer the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program, which provides a discount of 20 percent on qualifying customers’ monthly electric and natural gas bills. Based on current estimates, nearly 155,000 SCE customers and 230,000 Gas Company customers are eligible for the CARE program but have not yet enrolled. Customers who sign up for CARE with one utility are usually enrolled in the other utility’s program automatically.

Through its Energy Management Assistance program, SCE offers free energy efficient appliances, pool pumps, weatherization services, lighting, air conditioners and other efficiency measures for income-qualified renters and homeowners. Energy efficiency is essential to keeping electricity bills low and for helping grid reliability, especially during the hot summer days when air conditioners are running.

The Gas Company’s Direct Assistance Program provides energy-saving home improvements to income-qualified renters and homeowners. Free services include: door weather-stripping and caulking to keep out drafts; attic insulation to keep the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators that can save energy used to heat water and furnace, and water heater repair or replacement (owner-occupied homes only).

Long Beach Energy has several discount utility programs including a 5% low-income discount for qualifying households and nonproft group homes. A separate program is available for low-income that provides customers with 5% discount, as well as reduced and refuse collection and exemptions from some other .

Long Beach residents that do not qualify for utility discounts may benefit from the Level-pay Plan. Offered by Long Beach Energy, the Level-pay plan is a bill-averaging program that generally results in lower bill payments during winter months.

For information about the Long Beach utility assistance programs visit the City’s website.

To learn more about other economic assistance and other energy efficiency programs, visit SCE at www.sce.com/assistance or call 1-800-950-2356; and visit The Gas Company at www.socalgas.com/extrahelp or call 1-800- 427-2200.

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