With all of the talk of increases in the cost of power in California, you may be concerned about being able to pay your utility bills. To help you with these costs, several programs are available.
In addition to the programs discussed here most utility companies will set up a payment plan if you have difficulty paying your bills. Contact the customer service department to work out a schedule of payments and avoid having your services interrupted.
CARE is available in Los Angeles (L.A.) County to qualified customers of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company. This program offers a 15-percent discount in gas and electrical costs to low-income individuals. In addition to the 15-percent discount, people who qualify for care will be exempt from the nine-percent rate hike in electricity rates that was recently approved.
To be eligible for aid, a single individual must not make more than $18,200 annually in gross taxable/non-taxable income. To take advantage of this program you can request an application by calling your energy company's customer service department.
The state of California offers this program to help low-income individuals with overdue gas or electric bills. HEAP also offers a rebate program. The rebate check with an annual maximum of $207 is given directly to the utility company to be credited to the customer's account. Applications for this program generally take six weeks or more to process. Priority is given to applicants with the highest utility bill and the lowest income. Call to locate the nearest participating community-based organization and to get an application.
This program provides utility assistance for individuals with low income. Eligible people get assistance to avoid a shut-off notice, reconnection fees, or to establish a new utility account. Contact your utility company to locate the nearest participating agency that receives this specialized funding.
The Department of Water and Power offers low-income rate to customers within qualifying income levels. This rate reduces the cost of electricity, water and sewer services for their permanent, primary residence by up to 15 percent. Income means all income of all persons who live in the household. Call for current income requirements.
This program helps senior citizens 62 years or older or permanently disabled individuals who have an annual household income of less than the allowed maximum.
This program helps you save energy and money by showing you ways to make your home more energy-efficient. A free Home Saver Energy Survey and other services are available. A Department of Water and Power energy advisor will contact you to schedule a convenient time for your survey.
The purpose of this program is to assist low-income and elderly unemployed Department of Water and Power customers meet their energy and water needs. It is especially designed for those not eligible for other aid or welfare assistance.
Funding for project ANGEL comes from contributions from DWP customers as well as city employees. Currently, funding for this program is not available. When funds become available, DWP customers will be notified in the newsletter sent out with monthly statements, or customers can call to check if funds are going to be available.
This discount is available to DWP customers who have a device in their home which is an essential life-support unit powered by electricity or water supplied by the Department of Water and Power. The application is subject to review by the DWP medical director prior to acceptance and is also subject to periodic review by the DWP. Devices such as therapeutic pools, air conditioning and elevators are not considered life-supporting.
If someone in your household has scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, a compromised immune system, a life-threatening illness, or requires regular use of life-support equipment you may be entitled to an additional baseline allowance.
If you are participating in CalWORKS or have applied for the program you may be able to get "immediate need" money to pay your delinquent utility bills.
Jennifer Ludlow is a volunteer in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Publications Program.