Power lines are shown in San Diego's Tierrasanta neighborhood, Dec. 15, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Why this matters

Thousands of San Diegans called SDG&E to complain about their bills increasing significantly, driven in part by a spike in the cost of natural gas and an 11% increase in electricity rates that took effect in January.

San Diegans saw their gas and electricity bills spike since the new year began. San Diego Gas and Electric executives blame a spike in the price of natural gas, whose cost increased by 25% from a year ago. But also hitting customers was a hike in electricity rates, which rose by 11% on Jan. 1. 

But where can SDG&E customers find relief? The company’s leadership points to multiple bill relief programs offered through SDG&E. 

Here is a brief overview of programs your family or business may qualify for. Click the links below to apply to any of the programs. 

Programs tied to income levels

CARE Program

The California Alternate Rates for Energy Program can give qualifying SDG&E customers 30% or more off of their monthly bill. To qualify, a household must have members who participate in the following assistance programs or meet income guidelines:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • CalFresh (Food Stamps) / SNAP
  • CalWORKs (TANF) or Tribal TANF
  • Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Medicaid/Medi-Cal for Families A & B
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Following are the income limits for eligibility in the CARE program: 

FERA Program

The Family Electric Rate Assistance Program offers an 18% discount on electricity bills for a family of three or more. Eligible customers must not exceed the total household income requirements: 

For customers with medical needs 

The Medical Baseline Allowance Program is designed for people whose medical conditions may lead to greater use of power. The program does not discount power bills or offer a rebate, but it does offer an additional amount of gas and electricity at lower rates. Customers who use qualifying medical devices or have a qualifying medical condition may be eligible. 

For customers with outstanding debt

The Arrearage Management Payment plan is for customers who are already enrolled in the CARE or FERA programs who have past-due balances on their accounts. The program is a 12-month payment plan that forgives one-twelfth of a customer’s debt after an on-time payment of a monthly bill. After 12 on-time payments, the customer’s debt will be forgiven up to $8,000.

To be eligible, customers also must:

  • Be current SDG&E residential customers. Businesses are not eligible. 
  • Have been customers for at least six months and made at least one payment on time in the last two years. 

The program also sets a minimum debt amount for participants. Electric customers must owe $500 or more on past due bills, and gas-only customers must have at least $250 in overdue bills. Both customer types must have some debt that is at least 90 days past due. 

For business owners 

  • The Comprehensive Energy Management Solutions Program is for larger commercial customers, grocery store owners or multi-building operations, for example. This program offers cash incentives to businesses that make eligible upgrades such as installing new equipment. 

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.