During tough economic times SDG&E urges customers to enroll in assistance programs

Jan 28, 2009

Media Contact:
Raul Gordillo

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066



        SAN DIEGO, Jan. 28, 2009 – As working families struggle to make ends meet due to the current economic downturn, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is urging customers to take advantage of the utility’s assistance programs – programs that can help reduce winter heating bills and increase energy efficiency.

        “I recently went through some tough times financially and thanks to SDG&E and the CARE program, they were able to give me some relief on my monthly bill,” said Lisette Pasillas, resident of Spring Valley.  “I hope other families can benefit from this generous program that has helped me get by during these difficult times.”

        Pasillas qualified for the California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program, which provides a 20-percent rate discount on the monthly electric and natural gas bill for eligible households.  Customers may be automatically eligible if they currently receive benefits from the Women, Infants and Children, Healthy Families, Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or LIHEAP programs.  
        “We strongly encourage customers to call us, especially if they’re having trouble paying their bill by the payment deadline,” said Michelle M. Mueller, vice president of customer operations.  “We are here to help.”

        In addition to CARE, SDG&E offers a wide range of assistance programs for qualifying customers on a limited income or with special medical needs.

        • The Energy Team provides free energy-saving home improvements to income-qualified renters and homeowners.  Services include; door weather-stripping and caulking to keep unwanted drafts out of the home; ceiling insulation to help the home stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; low-flow showerheads that can save energy used to heat water; furnace replacement (owner occupied only) and other minor home repairs.

        • Customers who have a person in the home with certain medical conditions – who may require additional heating or air conditioning to sustain their health, may qualify for additional natural gas or electricity at the lowest baseline rate through the Medical Baseline Allowance program.  There are no income requirements for the Medical Baseline program; however doctor certification is required.

        • The Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund provides assistance of up to $200 on a customer’s bill.  The program is open to qualified customers who are experiencing temporary financial hardship and are not eligible for state or federal assistance.  Customers eligible for government assistance must apply for energy assistance under those programs before being considered for Neighbor-to-Neighbor assistance.  These funds are available now.  Please call 2-1-1 to find participating agencies.  Funded by donations from customers and employees of SDG&E, as well as shareholders of Sempra Energy, SDG&E’s parent company.
        SDG&E offers hundreds of dollars in rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances and can provide customers with a free energy and water-saving kit.  The kit includes three faucet aerators and a low-flow showerhead to help customers save energy and water.  These devices allow air to enter into the water stream, maintaining a high-pressure flow while reducing water usage – ultimately saving money.  
        To learn more about assistance programs and how to conserve energy at home, customers can visit SDG&E’s Web site, www.sdge.com, or call toll-free at (800) 411-7343.

        SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  Exceptional customer service is a priority of SDG&E as it seeks to enhance the region’s quality of life.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.