Helping Customers in Need

With the continued economic downturn, many PG&E customers have struggled to remain current with their bills, including their energy bills. We are working to assist our customers in a variety of ways, including offering energy efficiency and demand response programs, innovative payment plans and discount pricing plans and home weatherization programs for income-qualified customers

Many of these programs, including California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), the Energy Savings Assistance Program and the Winter Gas Savings Program, are funded by the same “public purpose program” charge that funds energy efficiency programs for PG&E’s customers. The public purpose program public goods charge is embedded in PG&E’s rates.

Since the onset of the financial crisis, we have increased efforts to enroll eligible customers in the long-standing CARE program, which provides a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households. We have used new tools to reach out to the newly unemployed population via phone enrollments, door-to-door canvassing and Facebook.

Last year, we broadened our outreach efforts to reach more eligible customers. We partnered with nearly 180 community organizations to reach customers across 48 counties—participating in 130 outreach events including job, health and community fairs. In 2010, more than 400,000 new customers enrolled in the CARE program, bringing the total to nearly 1.5 million customers or more than 90 percent of eligible participants, exceeding the CPUC’s enrollment target.

On average, CARE households may save $600 per year on their gas and electric bill. Since the program’s inception in 1989, PG&E customers enrolled in CARE have saved more than $4 billion on their energy bills.

Our Energy Savings Assistance Program offered income-qualified renters and homeowners free energy education, weatherization measures and energy-efficient appliances to reduce gas and electric usage. Through the program, certified contractors install compact fluorescent lights, upgrade attic insulation, replace doors, provide weather stripping and make other minor home repairs, concluding with a home safety inspection. In 2010, we treated more than 133,300 homes, exceeding our target for the year.

Additionally, Balanced Payment Plans continued to provide an optional free bill payment plan designed to eliminate swings in customers’ monthly energy bills, such as when seasonal changes occur.

And residential pricing plans enabled by SmartMeter™ technology are helping customers better control and reduce energy costs. The SmartRate™ Summer Pricing Plan enables customers to save money by conserving power during up to 15 SmartDays™ each summer, when energy may be in short supply. More broadly, time of use rates enable customers to save money by reducing and shifting some of their usage to off-peak periods.

We also offered a Winter Gas Savings Program for the fifth year, rewarding customers who reduced natural gas consumption during the winter with a credit on their spring gas bills. In 2010, 1.9 million customers received credits totaling $37 million.

For more than 25 years, the REACH Program has provided emergency energy assistance to low-income families within PG&E’s service area. This one-time energy assistance program, funded with charitable dollars from PG&E’s shareholders, is administered by The Salvation Army. The program provides assistance of up to $200 to customers experiencing a crisis that prevents them from paying their gas or electric bill.

In 2010, PG&E announced a companion program with The Salvation Army to help customers who are recipients of the federal Temporary Energy Assistance for Families (TEAF) program to leverage PG&E’s REACH funds with federal stimulus funds. The program enabled these customers to receive up to $1,500 in one-time bill-paying assistance during a one month period in 2010.

Together, PG&E provided more than $4.1 million in charitable funding to help more than 14,400 customers through the REACH and TEAF programs in 2010.


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