SAN DIEGO — San Diego Gas & Electric announced the allocation of $16 million in financial assistance programs aimed at helping low-income customers who might be burdened with high utility bills.
About $10 million will go towards a new program supporting local, community-based nonprofits that provide services to vulnerable residents and the remaining $6 million will be used to increase funding for the Neighbor-to-Neighbor bill assistance program operated by 211.
SDG&E said in a release Monday that the funding going towards the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program will bring the amount of financial support available to qualifying customers up to $600 per household each year — double the current amount — as well as expand eligibility.
Plans for the $10 million partnership program are expected to be released in the coming weeks, according to the energy company.
“The unprecedented natural gas prices in the Western U.S. this winter have put a strain on families, and we must do more to help ease the financial burden facing our customers,” SDG&E CEO Caroline Winn said in a press release. “We are listening and remain focused on supporting the communities we serve during this challenging time. This additional funding will continue our efforts in assisting customers experiencing hardships.”
SDG&E customers are encouraged to apply if they are experiencing serious illness, temporary unemployment, disability or another unexpected hardship.
Other financial assistance programs are also available for residents, including the federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that offers help ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on household income, size and past due balances.
This announcement comes as natural gas prices have started to decline after historic highs during winter, due to high demand and issues in the state’s gas supply chain.
The company said that March commodity price forecasts are to expected be released Tuesday, bringing lower prices than January and February highs driven by the restoration of service to the Permian Highway Pipeline out of West Texas — one of the main suppliers of gas to California.