Customers who need help with paying their Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) bills may have a number of financial assistance, energy conservation, and government programs available to them. Many families will occasionally be faced with a short term hardship, and may need a little help from time to time in order to pay their utility bills. A summary of the main Pacific Gas and Electric Company programs are below, and the energy company is always committed to doing what they can to work with those who need help.
If qualified, some customers may be able to enroll into a one-time cash grant or payment assistance program that can help them make it through a financial hardship.
Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help, or REACH, was jointly created by the Salvation Army across California as well as Pacific Gas and Electric. The financial assistance program can help low income and other qualified customers who have experienced an emergency situation. This will usually be some type of unforeseen hardship or crisis that was not of their creation, and the emergency they face will prevent them from paying their utility bill. This program has been operating for over 25 years, and it has helped thousands of people who were behind on their electricity bills.
If you apply at your Salvation Army and are found to be qualified, you may be able to receive an energy credit of up to $200 on your bills. The exact amount of the credit provided will be based on the past due amount of the energy bill. Assistance from REACH may be available at most once within an 18 month period. However exceptions can be made for the disabled, physically challenged, the terminally ill, or seniors. To learn more or to apply, call the Salvation Army in California at 1-800-933-9677.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP is the primary federal government program. It is run by community action agencies as well as the California Department of Community Services and Development. Tens of thousands of PG&E customers benefit from it every year.
Cash grants for paying electric bills can be provided by LIHEAP. A crisis component can accelerate the payments for those customers who are faced with a disconnection. Priority for any financial assistance is given to low income people who pay a large percentage of their income towards their utility bills, with priority given to families with children, seniors, and disabled Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers. The financial aid paid out can help a low income customer offset the cost of heating or cooling their home or apartment. Call your local community action agency in California.
Home weatherization is a separate government program, but is usually offered in combination with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This resource will help people save money, and is offered for free to qualified families. Customers may qualify for home improvements such as CFL bulbs, extra insulation, caulking, furnace tune ups, and much more.
Balanced Payment Plan is not a cash payment, but it is still a helpful resource. It will even out the highs and lows of your monthly energy bills. It is available for all Pacific Gas and Electric customers, regardless of their total income. So this service will set your utility bills so that they will be more equal throughout the year. This will prevent spikes in your bills from when it’s really hot or cold outside. It helps people budget their expenses over the course of a month or year.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company Payment Arrangements are offered. Customers that are having trouble paying their PG&E bill over the short term may be able to receive help. The energy company will work with customers and try to find a solution to their problem. Disconnection will be a last resort. Customer service representatives from PG&E will try to set up convenient and flexible payment arrangements that can help people avoid service disconnections on their account, and provide people time to catch up on their unpaid bills. Dial 1-800-743-5000 to explore this option.
One of the main programs offered in California is the CARE program. This may be able to provide qualified customers with a monthly discount on their energy bills, and savings are offered for income-qualified households. A number of conditions and criteria need to be met; however some of those qualifications will be based on the total number of persons living in your home and also your total annual household income. Up to a 20% discount can be provided on your Pacific Gas and Electric monthly bill. 1-866-743-2273.
FERA, or Family Electric Rate Assistance, may be able to provide a monthly discount on your electric bills for income-qualified households of three or more persons. This will bill some of your usage at a lower monthly rate.
Energy Savings Assistance Program is a PG&E resource that may be able to provide income-qualified homeowners and renters with easy, free solutions to help them save money. This is done by helping them manage their energy use and conserve money.
A number of free services and home improvements/updates can be conducted. This can include, but is not limited to, improvements to your apartment, house or mobile home including adding showerheads, compact fluorescent lights, minor home repair and caulking. It can provide for the replacement of your old furnace, water heater, or refrigerator with new, modern energy efficient models. Various energy savings tips can also be provided by representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric. Read PG&E energy conservation.
Medical Baseline Allowance is a discount offered for residential customers with a medical condition or serious health care matter. Income levels will need to be met. In addition, in order to qualify for savings from the Medical Baseline program, a California-licensed doctor will need to certify that a full-time resident in your home has one or more of these qualified medical conditions. A patient with special heating needs; the customer must be dependent on life-support equipment while at home; the applicant needs to have a life-threatening illness or compromised immune system with special cooling and/or heating requirements; they need to be a quadriplegic, paraplegic, hemiplegic, or multiple sclerosis patient.
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