Gas Co. offers help to reduce winter heating bills

DOWNEY - As working families struggle to make ends meet due to the current economic downturn, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) 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 was really excited when I discovered The Gas Company's CARE program and how they are reaching out to people that are in need of help," said Reola Robinson, an Inglewood resident. "I am grateful for the assistance that we've received because we can now make our budget." Robinson qualified for the California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program, which provides a 20 percent rate discount on the monthly 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, The Gas Company offers a wide range of assistance programs for qualifying customers on a limited income or with special medical needs. The Direct Assistance Program provides 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 to sustain their health - may qualify for additional natural gas 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 Gas Assistance Fund helps provide a one time grant to customers during the winter who are income qualified and unable to pay their bill. The program, which runs from the beginning of February through the end of April, or until funds are depleted, is administered by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and is funded by donations from customers and employees of The Gas Company, as well as shareholders of Sempra Energy, The Gas Company's parent company. The Gas Company 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. Customers can enroll to the assistance programs by visiting The Gas Company's Web site, www.socalgas.com/assistance, or call toll-free at (800) 427-2200 or (800) 342-4545 in Spanish. To learn how to conserve energy at home, customers can visit www.socalgas.com/energyefficiency. ********** Published: January 30, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 41