Episcopal Community Services (ECS) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced they have joined forces to launch an aggressive outreach program designed to enroll limited-income customers in the state California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program.
CARE provides a 20-percent discount to participants every month on their energy bill. As part of the grassroots effort, ECS CARE Teams will be going door-to-door to inform customers of the income guidelines and sign them up for the program if they meet the criteria outlined by the state.
CARE Teams will canvass the areas with the following ZIP codes: 92101-92105 and 92113-92116. These ZIP codes encompass downtown San Diego, University Heights, Golden Hill, Hillcrest, Sherman Heights, Southeast San Diego, Logan Heights, Encanto, College Grove, Normal Heights, City Heights and North Park. Currently, more than 150,000 SDG&E customers participate in the CARE program, and an additional 92,000 could potentially qualify based on projections from the state. Within the communities served by the ECS CARE Team, nearly 30,000 customers could qualify for the CARE discount.
"This collaboration with ECS is just one of many programs we have with agencies to reach out to our lower-income customers," said Pamela J. Fair, vice president of customer services for SDG&E. "Much like the census-takers that go out in the community, we hope that residents will open their doors to the members of the ECS CARE Team program so they can receive discounts on their energy bills."
In addition to the door-to-door CARE program SDG&E communicates information to its customers about CARE through advertisements in English and other languages, bill inserts, newsletters and community events.
"The program serves an urgent need within our community," said Bob Morris, vice president of ECS. "We sought the partnerships with SDG&E, because we believe we have a responsibility to help stabilize the lives of people in poverty, and energy costs are a major factor in the budgets of the people we serve."
In June, the California Utilities Commission (CPUC) increased the CARE discount to 20 percent from 15 percent of the customer's bill. The CPUC also increased the eligibility guidelines to include households with a total income of up to 175 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The income guidelines were increased to:
Household of 1 or 2 - $22,000
Household of 3 - $25,900
Household of 4 - $31,100
Each additional person - add $5,200
Customers interested in learning more about the CARE program, rebate programs or energy-efficiency programs and other assistance programs should call 1-800-411-SDGE (7343), or visit www.sdge.com.