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SCE Asks Customers to 'Round Up' Bill Payments to Help Less Fortunate

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Southern California Edison (SCE) is inviting customers to give a few pennies each month to the Energy Assistance Fund (EAF) to help their neighbors in need.

The EAF program grants up to $100 per year to help customers who cannot pay their electric bills. This program is funded by SCE employees and the utility’s parent company, Edison International, as well as through the voluntary donations of SCE customers. Although EAF recently received a $500,000 grant from Edison International shareholders, the program will run out of money in a few months.

“If 170,000 customers round up their bills to the nearest dollar amount, more than $1 million will be generated for the EAF program and can help keep the program running all year long,” said Lynda Ziegler, SCE senior vice president, Customer Service.

“Rounding up your bill each month only comes to about $6 per year but can make a huge difference in someone’s life.” To sign up for the “round up” program or to make a one-time donation, customers can call (800) 655-4555, visit www.sce.com/eaf, or choose the “round up” option on their monthly bill.

Since 1982, the Energy Assistance Fund has helped thousands of SCE low-income families.

In 2009, it served about 8,600 customers. United Way of Greater Los Angeles administers the funds for the company through 75 community-based organizations.

SCE customers donated $58,000 directly in 2009, and contributed another $53,500 by designating their rebates for recycling refrigerators go to the fund.

In addition to the Energy Assistance Fund, SCE also provides many other programs to help customers in need.

Customers can also receive bill assistance through the following programs, many of which have new income guidelines as of June 1:

• The California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program provides a discount of 20 percent or more on income-qualifying customers’ monthly electric bills. There are 1.3 million SCE customers enrolled in CARE but an additional 126,000 customers are eligible, though they have not yet begun to take advantage of the discounted rate.

• FERA, the Family Electric Rate Assistance program, provides a discounted rate on the monthly bill for families of three or more who fall within the income guidelines and exceed their baseline electricity usage by 30 percent or more.

• EMA, the Energy Management Assistance program, helps income-qualified households conserve energy and reduce their electricity costs.

SCE supplies and installs energy- efficient appliances and equipment at no cost to eligible customers. EMA services are available to homeowners and renters.

• SCE can offer assistance to customers having difficulty paying their bills through payment plans or extensions. Reaching out to SCE as soon as customers recognize they may have problems paying their bills will help avoid disconnections and the fees and deposits that often are required to restore service.

• Customers who rely on electronic medical equipment may be eligible for the Medical Baseline discounted rate.

• Customers who need additional help should call 211 to connect with community service programs throughout California.

To learn more about these programs and other ways SCE helps customers keep current on their electric bills, please visit www.sce.com/assistance or call 1 (800) 369-3652.

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