SDG&E working with local organizations to help enroll struggling customers in the federal utility assistance program
Under the federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), about $10 million is available to help San Diego Gas & Electric customers who are past due on their bill payments. About $7 million of that amount was allocated for 2021-2022 and is expected to expire by June 30. 2023.
Individuals and families who qualify for LIHEAP can potentially receive assistance ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on their income, household size and past-due balance. Over the past year, SDG&E worked with two local nonprofit organizations to help process $5.5 million in LIHEAP payments to offset the overdue balances of about 7,200 customers.
Help with LIHEAP Applications
With the expiration date looming for millions in LIHEAP funding, SDG&E will again host program specialists from a local nonprofit organization called Campesinos Unidos, Inc. (CUI) at its Escondido branch office (644 West Ave.) in the coming weeks to guide customers through the LIHEAP application process. To learn about CUI’s future visits to SDG&E branch offices, visit sdge.com/LIHEAP.
CUI’s office in the City of San Diego, located at 885 Gateway Center Way, Ste 103, also processes applications by appointment, 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 1-p.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
Besides CUI, another local nonprofit called MAAC helps residents in San Diego County with LIHEAP applications. Both CUI and MAAC have a long-standing history of providing social services to individuals and families in need.
Interested residents can also call 211 San Diego for more information about LIHEAP and other utility assistance programs that they may be eligible for, including Neighbor-to-Neighbor, California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) and Family Electric Rates Assistance (FERA).
The U.S. Congress appropriated an additional $203 million in LIHEAP funding for California under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 to address the continued impact of COVID-19. The funding is administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development, which contracts with community-based organizations, like CUI, to manage the application process.
Any legal resident of the United States who meets the income guidelines and is responsible for energy costs in a residence may be eligible for LIHEAP. Applicants must provide a social security number and may only receive aid once a year from LIHEAP.
LIHEAP funds designated for the San Diego region that are not exhausted by June 30, 2023 will be returned to California Department of Community Services & Development.
Other Assistance Programs
While SDG&E does not administer the LIHEAP program, it offers a wide variety of other assistance programs, including bill discounts, debt relief, payment plans, Level Pay to minimize bill spikes, and energy efficiency upgrades that can help lower bills long term. Learn more at sdge.com/assistance. Those who qualify for LIHEAP but are not currently enrolled in SDG&E’s bill discount programs such as CARE and FERA are encouraged to take advantage of them. The Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, funded entirely by SDG&E shareholder dollars (not ratepayer dollars), provides eligible customers with up to $300 to offset their outstanding bills. Learn more at sdge.com/assistance.