A view of the SDG&E building. Courtesy of NBC San Diego broadcast.

San Diego Gas & Electric Wednesday encouraged customers facing financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic to apply online for bill discount programs.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing financial strain for many individuals and families in the region, SDG&E’s discounts can save them 30% or more off their monthly utility bill.

The utility offers bill discount programs to support customers year- round. Many people who previously could not take advantage of these income- based programs may now be able to do so due to lost wages, the company said. Those who recently lost their job, even if they are receiving unemployment benefits, may also be eligible for other programs.

California Alternate Rates for Energy provides a 30% or more discount on monthly bills. Qualification is based on participation in certain public assistance programs or household income as of Wednesday. No additional documents are required to apply.

A customer who doesn’t qualify for that alternate rates program may qualify for Family Electric Rate Assistance, which provides income-qualified households of three or more with a reduced electric rate (18% discount) on their monthly bill.

In order to raise awareness of those programs, SDG&E launched a marketing and public outreach campaign, which will also promote the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The low-income program is federally funded and helps low-income households with their energy bills. The program is overseen by the California Department of Community Services and Development and administered by nonprofit agencies that have funding available to help residents with up to $1,000 on their energy bills. Additional funding is also expected with the recent passage of the federal economic stimulus package.

In mid-March, in response to the pandemic, SDG&E voluntarily began to suspend service disconnections due to nonpayment. The disconnection moratorium will remain in place until further notice, according to the utility. At the same time, the company is urging customers who are struggling to pay their utility bill to call the customer contact center at 1-800-411-7343 to make payment arrangements.

The company is temporarily waiving late payment fees for business customers whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus. The company does not charge residential customers late payment fees.

–City News  Service