Triple digit temperatures have a firm grip on the central San Joaquin Valley this summer. But electric customers groaning under ballooning power bills from nonstop home cooling may be able to get relief, whether you’re a customer of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. or Southern California Edison.
If you’re immediately in danger of getting your electricity shut off, the REACH (Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help) program can help. Run by the Salvation Army, the program will cover the cost of your PG&E bill for up to $300. The bill credit can be used only once every 18 months and you must meet income guidelines, PG&E says. To apply, contact the Salvation Army at 800-933-9677.
Edison has partnered with local organizations to offer one-time bill payments of up to $100 for needy households. To apply, contact either the Salvation Army in Porterville at 559-784-7872, the Community Services and Employment Training Center in Visalia at 559-732-4194, or the Kings Community Action Organization at 559-582-4386.
Both PG&E and Edison offer discounted rates for low-income households. Customers save an average of 30 percent to 35 percent on each bill on the CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) program, according to the state. Income limits start at $32,480 for up to two people. If you make more than that and won’t qualify, the FERA (Family Electric Rate Assistance) program uses slightly higher income limits, saving customers 12 percent on their monthly bills. PG&E customers can apply online or by calling 866-743-2273. Edison customers can also apply for both programs online or by calling 800-447-66200.
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PG&E and Edison customers in low-income households may qualify for the Energy Savings Assistance Program. Subcontractors are sent into your home to replace old light bulbs with energy efficient ones, install weather stripping and more. You may even get a replacement refrigerator. PG&E customers can apply online and Edison customers can also apply online or by calling 800-736-4777.
Edison offers bill credits and rebates when you update your home with new appliances. A smart thermostat, air conditioner and a variable speed pool pump are some of the items that can garner up to a $200 rebate.
PG&E offers up to $475 in rebates for repairs to your air conditioning unit if you use certain certified contractors. By working with a certified contractor, rebates are also available for home upgrades that make your home more energy efficient, such as wall insulation and replacing your water heater. A full list of rebates is available on PG&E’s website.
If someone in your household uses life support equipment or depends on heating or air conditioning to live, you could be eligible for an extra allotment of electricity or gas. Life-support equipment includes respirators, iron lungs, hemodialysis machines, suction machines, electric nerve stimulators, pressure pads and pumps, aerosol tents and motorized wheelchairs. Apply online or by calling 800-743-5000 for PG&E customers. Edison customers can apply online.