More Customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company Now Eligible for Lower Electric Bills Through Low-Income Program

Jun 01, 2005, 01:00 ET from Pacific Gas and Electric Company

    SAN FRANCISCO, June 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- With summer right around
 the corner and temperatures warming up, now is the time for Pacific Gas and
 Electric Company's low-income customers to sign up for a 20 percent discount
 on their entire energy bill. Thousands of income-qualified customers eligible
 for the California Alternate Rate for Energy Program (CARE) can receive a 20
 percent reduction on their bill. On average, the program saves households $25
 per month on their gas and electric bills.
     Since 1989, the CARE program has saved customers $1,336,336,887 in lowered
 energy bills.  Currently, there are 929,243 eligible customers throughout
 PG&E's service area already enrolled in CARE, which represents 72% of the
 estimated 1,283,879 eligible customers. Despite the good news, statistics show
 there are still 354,636 households in northern and central California who are
 financially eligible for CARE, but not yet enrolled in the discount program.
     "Thousands of eligible customers who are qualified for this discount
 program are not aware of it," said Linda Fontes, CARE program supervisor for
 the utility.  "To make sure that we reach all CARE qualified customers we have
 partnered with community-based organizations who perform outreach activities
 and provide assistance in low-income communities. As a result of these
 partnerships over 35,000 households were enrolled on the program in 2004."
     There are several ways for customers to enroll in CARE, such as calling
 PG&E's CARE toll free multilingual assistance line 1-866-PGE-CARE, visiting
 PG&E's CARE Web page at, or at dozens of self-service kiosks
 that have been placed at PG&E local offices throughout the utility's service
     Every year, the CPUC adjusts the maximum qualifying income levels to
 reflect changes in the federal poverty guidelines. These higher income levels
 mean that more customers can now qualify for the low-income program. The new
 income guidelines based on pre-tax annual income are as follows:
     Number of People   Previous Income Levels     New Income Levels
     Per Household      (Effective June 1, 2004-   (Effective June 1,
                        May 31, 2005)              2005)
     1 or 2             $23,400                    $24,200
     3                  $27,500                    $28,400
     4                  $33,100                    $34,200
     5                  $38,700                    $40,000
     6                  $44,300                    $45,800
     Add $5,800 for each additional household member above 6.
     Besides CARE, PG&E offers a variety of other programs to assist its low-
 income, disabled and senior citizen customers:
      REACH (Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help) is a one-time
      energy-assistance program sponsored by PG&E and administered by the
      Salvation Army.  REACH helps low-income customers who experience severe
      or unplanned hardships and are unable to pay for their energy needs.
      FERA (Family Electric Rate Assistance) is for large households of three
      or more persons with low to middle income.  This program charges Tier 2
      rates for Tier 3 usage (electric usage exceeding Tier 3 will be billed at
      Tiers 4 and 5).
      Energy Partners provides free weatherization measures such as caulking,
      weather stripping and attic insulation, and free energy-efficient
      appliances that could include refrigerators and air conditioners.
      Medical Baseline is offered to residential customers dependent on life-
      support equipment and/or with special heating or cooling needs due to
      certain medical conditions who may be eligible to receive additional
      quantities of energy at the lowest (baseline) price.
      Balanced Payment Plan offers monthly payments that can be evened out to
      allow customers to budget energy costs and eliminate big swings in
      monthly payments.  The same amount will be paid every month.
     For information on PG&E's low-income programs, customers can call the
 utility's customer service line 800-PGE-5000 or log on to
   To learn more about CARE and to download an application, please visit the
         company's website at or call 1-866-PGE-CARE.

SOURCE Pacific Gas and Electric Company