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SDG&E provides options to help customers during coronavirus pandemic

Stay-at-home orders lead to higher usage, bills
sdge bill.jpg
Posted at 8:02 AM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 12:29:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diegans struggling to make ends meet may be able to get help with their utility bills, thanks to a handful of discounts through SDG&E.

"Times are tough right now, and people are struggling everywhere," says SDG&E Communications Manager Sara Prince. "We understand that."

While the utility company isn't offering any direct discounts, they are helping customers apply for several federal, state, and local programs.

The California Alternate Rates for Energy, or CARE Program, offers people a 30% or more discount on their utility bills. People who have lost income because of the pandemic, or are already on specific public assistance programs like CalFresh or Medicaid may qualify.

If you don't qualify for CARE, you may be eligible for the Family Electric Rate Assistance, or FERA Program. That is for families of three or more people, and eligibility is based on your annual income.

There is also the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP. Qualifying for that is also based on your income.

But Prince says the coronavirus pandemic has made it easier than ever to qualify for these programs.

"Due to the pandemic, the restrictions on these bill assistance programs have been eased so that more people can take advantage of the assistance they need during these challenging times," says Prince.

SDG&E has also promised not to turn off anyone's service because they can't pay their bills. The utility company is offering flexible payment plans for people who need to pay in installments. They've also waived all late fees.

We understand that nearly everyone has been touched by this pandemic," says Prince. "They're struggling with their finances. They're worried about how they're going to pay their bills. The last thing we want them to do is to worry about how they're going to pay their energy bills."

SDG&E says customers can also take advantage of their "super off-peak" pricing on the Time of Use Plan. SDG&E found that usage is changing because more people are staying home. Before the pandemic, they saw heavy usage in the early morning hours as people got ready for work or school. With people working and learning from home, SDG&E says usage is now spiking in the mid-to-late morning hours. That coincides with the 6 a.m. - 4 p.m. off-peak pricing time, giving people more chances to save.

For more information about any of these programs, go to sdge.com/coronavirus.