Last Updated on December 31, 2009 by Paulette Brown-Hinds
This holiday season, many Californians find themselves facing tough financial situations, and Southern California Edison (SCE) is reaching out to help. According to a recent survey, about 12 percent of SCE’s customers – 480,000 – are having trouble paying their bills.
SCE is asking its customers to call the utility as soon as they think they will have problems paying their electricity bills.
“There are so many ways we can work with our customers,” said Lynda Ziegler, SCE’s senior vice president, Customer Service. “We encourage them to call us so we are aware they need help.
We have many programs and services that provide various forms of assistance.”
SCE offers the following programs for customers:
· 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 1.2 million SCE customers enrolled in CARE; an additional 193,000 customers are eligible, but have not enrolled.
· FERA, the Family Electric Rate Assistance program, allows a discounted rate on the monthly bill for families of three or more who fall within the income guidelines and exceed their baseline 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.
· EAF, the Energy Assistance Fund, grants up to $100 per year to help customers who cannot pay their electric bills. The grants are administered by assistance agencies. EAF is funded by donations from SCE employees, customers and Edison International, SCE’s publicly held parent company.
· 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 bills, please visit www.sce.com/assistance or call 1-800-369-3652.
In addition, SCE encourages all customers to keep bills low by conserving energy.
Information on payment plans, household energy guzzlers, and rebates and savings are at www.sce.com/highbillhelper.
Customers also can learn many easy ways to save energy at www.sce.com/tips.