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Southern California Edison is well aware of how quickly utility bills can grow, and the company has a few programs and options for people who need help with bills. Some of these strategies offer short-term relief, while others are meant to help those whose incomes are low and who can’t really spare extra cash.
Check out these helpful payment options!
If you’re having trouble paying just one bill — say, your paycheck was delayed, or you’ve had an unexpected drain on your cash like a car repair — you can always set up a payment arrangement. This extension lets you pay the bill later with no penalty. You can arrange for a this online through your account.
One program worth mentioning is not income-specific but it can help you if your budget is on the edge. The Level Pay Plan allows you to spread out your payments. If your budget is very tight, and you’re worried about how one high bill could ruin your account, you may want to apply for this program. Your previous year’s utility bills are added up and averaged over 11 months, and you pay just that average amount. If your actual usage is lower or higher, your next year’s averaged bills will be lower or higher as necessary. You can change your mind at any time.
All customers can use Budget Assistant to help you manage your electricity use. This system will notify you if you’re using more electricity than you expected or can afford. Check it out in your online account dashboard on the SCE site!
Choose the right SCE rate plan for your household!
SCE offers several different rate plans. If you’re able to manage your electricity usage to avoid using power during certain hours, you may be able to save money with a different rate plan!
Please note that the California Public Utilities Commission requires SCE to begin switching all customers to TOU plans in 2018 but you CAN switch back to the regular rate plan!
Both tiered and time of use plans may have a baseline allocation. If you rely on life-support equipment, you can receive an extra 16.5 kWh per day in your baseline allocation to compensate for your medical equipment. For more information, click here.
Time of Use plans require you to use less electricity during certain hours. You’ll save money when you use energy during low-demand hours like nights and weekends! There are four time of use rate plans available. I’ll explain the first three because the fourth only applies to owners of electric cars.
TOU-D-A is for low and medium energy consumers who can avoid using electricity between 2pm and 8pm on weekdays. These customers pay a daily basic charge of $0.3 per day with a minimum daily charge of $0.33. There is a higher peak rate charge. However, their bills are offset by a $0.09 per kWh credit up to a specified monthly baseline allocation.
TOU-D-B is for high energy consumers who use more than 700 kWh per month. The peak rates are lower but there is a daily basic charge of $0.53 per day. There is no minimum daily charge and no baseline credit under this program.
TOU-D-T plans combine the Time of Use and Tiered Rate pricing plans. Customers on this plan pay the most during 2pm and 6pm on weekdays. There is a dialy basic charge of $0.03 per day and a minimum daily charge of $0.33. There is no baseline credit but there are two pricing plans depending on what percentage of your baseline allocation you’ve used.
Tiered rate plans are also avialable. Under these plans, your rate increases as you use more electricity. You’ll receive a baseline allocation that depends on your region and medical status. At this tier, electricity is 16 cents per kWh. If you use more than that allotted amount of electricity, your rate climbs to the Tier 2 rate of 25 cents per kWh. After you use four times as much as your baseline allocation, you’ll pay 31 cents per kWh and may be charged a state-mandated High Usage Charge.
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Participate in the online Energy Advisor survey and get customized savings tips for your specific home and bill! It only takes 5 minutes.
Another program that you could qualify for is the Energy Savings Assistance Program, or ESA. Like CARE and FERA, this is income-based, and it provides free energy-efficient appliances. You could qualify to get a new air conditioner, refrigerator, or more.
If you participate in ESA, you’ll also be eligible for help with weatherization. Fixing up your home — even if you’re just filling in gaps and cracks in a wall — is essential for energy conservation and cost-cutting, but many low-income families may not have the time or money to effectively protect their home. ESA participants get help with weatherization and more.
If you have a central air conditioning system, you may be eligible to participate in the Summer Discount Plan. This plan provides a credit on your bill but it requires a one year commitment. While participating, SCE will have the ability to cycle your air conditioner of and on to lower energy demands during special “Energy Event” days. These days are determined based on emergencies, overworked electrical grids, high energy prices or testing periods. The events will never last more than 6 hours per day.
Get help paying your SCE bill!
Southern California Edison also has something call the Energy Assistance Fund (EAF). The United Way of Greater Los Angeles and SCE have created a fund that gives a one-time assistance payment of up to $100 for your bill. If you’re in dire straits but think your situation is temporary, you may qualify for help through this program. By the way, the program also takes donations — including those of a few cents — so once your financial situation stabilizes, if you’d like to contribute, you can arrange for your bills to be rounded up, and the extra money donated.
Of course, many times a low income is a long-term issue. A one-time boost isn’t going to be enough to overcome that, so SCE participates in different programs to help you pay your bills on a regular basis as long as your income meets specific criteria.
SCE participates in two California state programs to help low-income households. One is CARE, or California Alternative Rates for Energy. This program offers a hefty monthly discount of about 30 percent. All households are eligible regardless of size — so if you’re the only occupant, you can still qualify — but there are income limits, and the company will verify your income. If you don’t meet the income limits, you can still apply if someone in the household participates in a public assistance program such as WIC, SSI or LIHEAP.
The other program is FERA, or Family Electric Rate Assistance. This program is meant for households with three or more members and can offer discounts of 12 percent. FERA has income guidelines, and again, SCE will verify the information you provide.
At the federal level, you can apply for programs such as LIHEAP, or the California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Block Grant, which is issued through the Department of Health and Human Services. LIHEAP offers two services: one is a weatherization program, and the other is an emergency payment system called the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). As with the other programs, there are income maximums. You can qualify even if you’re the only occupant of the dwelling.
You can apply for the programs online or via mail. You must report all sources of income, whether they’re from jobs, public assistance, or other sources.
For more tips for power bills, take a look at this page on saving money on your power bill. Keeping the lights on, the fridge running and the air conditioning or heating on is essential, and these programs and tips will help make getting your bill paid much easier.