It’s the time of year when I really start to dread opening the gas and electric bill. It got cold yesterday, didn’t it? Sometimes, no matter how many layers you wear, you just gotta turn on some heat.
I’ve been reading (with interest) about SDG&E’s intent to change electric rates so people that use less electricity will pay a little more and people that use more will pay a little less. I know this has a lot of people up in arms because they think that those of us that conserve will be hit with rate hikes while the energy hogs will get a break, and to some extent it’s true, but they’re talking about 4-5%, and that’s not going make much difference to most folks. But there are other sides to this issue…
In these hard economic times many families are trying to pool their resources. Kids are living at home longer, younger families have moved back in with their parents, more people are taking in roommates or trying some kind of communal living arrangement. Whatever the situation, it seems there are more people living under one roof than there were in the recent past. One of the drawbacks to this is that folks who live in groups can pay higher electric rates than those that live alone.
Most people don’t understand the tiered rate structure but in situations like these basically what happens is this: the more people that live at one address (or under one electric meter), the more likely they are to use more than the baseline allowance. And the higher you go over the baseline allowance the higher the rate is that you pay. Say, as a single person you use 200 kilowatt hours, which is well under the baseline, but a group of six adults may use 800 kilowatt hours, over the baseline allowance. That amount of electricity is less per person but way over the baseline allowance for a single residence so they pay a much higher rate for the electricity they use over the baseline allowance. This is a very simplified example and there are many factors that affect your rates.
But, there is a way that many people can save some money on their bill, as much as 20%. There are two programs, CARE and FERA, that provide assistance based on income, household size or participation in programs like WIC or MEDI-CAL. Keep in mind the recipient of any of the listed assistance programs can be anyone who lives in your house, but the person listed on the bill must be the one who applies. Below are the qualification guidelines, check them out, grab your electric bill (you’ll need your account number) and go apply online. It only takes a few minutes and you will be notified by email if you qualify. Do it soon so it counts on your next bill.
Program Participation Requirements
You may qualify if you are enrolled in one of the following public assistance programs:
- Medicaid / Medi-Cal
- Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
- Healthy Families A & B
- National School Lunch’s Free Lunch Program (NSL)
- Food Stamps / SNAP
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- TANF or Tribal TANF
Or, you may qualify if your total current income is no more than the income level shown:
Maximum Allowable Annual Income*
Number of Household
|1 or 2||$30,500||Not Eligible|
|3||$35,800||$35,801 – $44,800|
|4||$43,200||$43,201 – $54,000|
|5||$50,600||$50,601 – $63,200|
|6||$58,000||$58,001 – $72,400|
|Each additional Member||add $7,400||add $7,400 – $9,200|
*Effective June 1, 2009 through May 31, 2010
- The SDG&E bill must be in your name and the address must be your primary residence.
- You must not be claimed on another person’s income tax return other than your spouse.
- Your household is receiving benefits from one of the public assistance programs listed or your total current household income (all income of all persons living in your home) – before deductions – is no more than the income level listed.
- You must renew your application when requested.
- You may be asked to verify your income.
- You must notify SDG&E if you no longer qualify
Ready to apply? Go HERE!