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PUC Sponsors Free Consumer Utility Bill Fair In San Bernardino

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The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced that it is sponsoring a free utility Bill Information Fair for consumers.Thursday, May 3, 2007, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Victory Resource Center, 990 W. Mill St., San Bernardino.

The PUC's Consumer Services Representatives as well as representatives from AT&T, Cingular (the new AT&T), City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department (invited), Southern California Edison (SCE), Southern California Gas Company (SCG), Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, VerizonWireless, Victory Resource Center, Asian American Resource Center, California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) (invited), San Bernardino County Department on Aging and Adult Services (invited) and the Latino Issues Forum (LIF).

To provide a place where consumers can talk in-person with representatives from electricity and natural gas utilities, the city-run water department, and telecommunications companies and consumer groups about services, rates, cell phone use, billing disputes, payment assistance, or to apply for energy and telecommunications discount services, energy conservation programs, special telecommunications equipment or learn about services for seniors and adults.

Consumers should bring their bills - cell phone, landline telephone, water, or energy bills - with them to the Bill Fair.  If they need assistance programming their cell phones, they should bring them too.

Consumers, who qualify based on their household income levels, will be able to sign up for discount programs for low-income consumers as follows:

  • California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) provides a discount on electricity and natural gas bills.
  • California LifeLine (formerly known as Universal Lifeline Telephone Service), provides a discount on basic telephone service.

Income limits for CARE start at $28,600 for one to two people.  The income limits increase as more household members are added.  California LifeLine income limits start at $21,300 for one to two people and increases as more household members are added (in June these income levels may change).  Please visit the PUC's website for the income limits for CARE (http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/energy/care.htm) and California LifeLine (http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/telco/public+programs/ults.htm) enrollment.

At the Bill Fair, consumers can also find out about the energy utilities' Low-Income Energy Efficiency programs, which Southern California Edison calls the Energy Management Assistance Program and Southern California Gas Company calls DAP or the Direct Assistance Program.  These programs provide eligible renters and homeowners with free energy saving home improvement devices that are designed to help consumers lower their energy bills. SCE customers who cannot attend the Bill Information Fair can call l-800-477-6620 or visit www.sce.com  to learn more about the program; SCG customers can call 1-800-331-7593 or visit www.socalgas.com  for information.

Consumers may also find out how to receive assistance in paying their bills, through the various programs and services offered from both the utilities and local community agencies.

The California Telephone Access Program - CTAP - can provide information and take applications for free telecommunications equipment for people with certain disabilities.  CTAP is a nonprofit organization funded through a surcharge on telephone bills.

The San Bernardino Municipal Water Department can answer questions about consumer's bills and discuss water conservation with consumers.

Victory Resource Center and the Asian American Resource Center will be on hand to answer questions about their services.

The San Bernardino County Department on Aging and Adult Services can inform consumers about services for senior and adults that enable them to improve or maintain choice, independence and quality of life. 

Lunch for the first 350 people will be provided by the Mesquite Bar-be-que.  Drawings will be held for door prizes.  Consumers must be present to claim their door prize. A local radio station, La Maquina Musical 100.9 will also be present.

This is the third Bill Information Fair sponsored by the PUC.  Others are planned throughout the state this year.

For more information on the PUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.  Latino Issues Forum (LIF) is a statewide public policy and advocacy institute. For more information on LIF, please visit www.lif.org.

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