As post-holiday bills arrive in mailboxes this month, some families will be faced with tough financial decisions, struggling to make payments in a difficult economy. Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) urges customers to take advantage of the utility’s assistance programs -- programs that can help reduce winter heating bills and increase energy efficiency.
“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 of customer solutions for The Gas Company.
Customers are encouraged to call The Gas Company before their account is overdue and learn about the available assistance programs. A Gas Company representative will work with customers to set up a payment plan that meets their needs.
The Gas Company offers a wide range of assistance programs for qualifying customers on a limited income or with special medical needs.
• The California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program provides a 20- percent rate discount on the monthly natural gas bill.
Customers may be eligible automatically if they currently receive benefits from the Women, Infants and Children, Healthy Families, Medi- Cal/Medicaid, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or LIHEAP programs.
• The Direct Assistance Program (DAP) provides energy- saving home improvements to income-qualified renters and homeowners. Free services include: door weather-stripping and caulking to keep out drafts; ceiling insulation to keep the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; low-flow showerheads that can save energy used to heat water; furnace replacement (owner-occupied homes only) and other minor home repairs.
• People who require additional heating for health reasons may qualify for additional natural gas service at the lowest rate through the Medical Baseline Allowance program.
There are no income requirements for the Medical Baseline program; however, doctor certification is required.
• The Gas Assistance Fund provides a one-time grant to customers during the winter who are income-qualified and unable to pay their bill. The program, which is available until funds are depleted, is administered by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and is funded by donations from customers and employees of The Gas Company, as well as shareholders of Sempra Energy, The Gas Company’s parent company.
For all customers, The Gas Company also offers hundreds of dollars in rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances and can provide customers with a free energy- and watersaving kit. The kit includes three faucet aerators and a lowflow showerhead to help customers save energy and water.
These devices allow air to enter into the water stream, maintaining a high-pressure flow while reducing water usage – ultimately saving money.