June 27, 2001
ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 27, 2001- Southern California Edison officials today reissued their appeal to eligible low-income customers to enroll in a state-sponsored program that offers a significant discount on their utility rates.
The program is called the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE). The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently increased the CARE discount amount from 15% to 20% and enlarged the pool of eligible SCE customers by raising the income eligibility requirements from 150% to 175% of federal poverty guidelines.
Additionally, participants in the CARE program are exempt from the recently approved electricity rate surcharges.
Program eligibility is based on household size and recently revised income levels.
For a single- or two-person household, the annual income level cannot exceed $22,000;
- For a three-person household, the maximum is $25,900;
- For a four-person household, $31,100; and
- For households with more than four persons, add $5,200 per person.
Established by the CPUC in 1989 to help financially strapped ratepayers, the CARE program is available to customers living in individual residences, nonprofit group-living facilities (transitional housing, short- or long-term care facilities, group homes for physically or mentally disabled persons, homeless shelters, hospices and women's shelters), and agricultural-employee housing.
Currently, the program is undersubscribed, according to SCE Customer Service Senior Vice President Pam Bass, who noted that about 60% of the eligible 1 million SCE customers participate in the CARE program.
To boost enrollment, the utility has stepped up its regular outreach and publicity efforts through an extensive multilingual radio and print ad campaign and by inserting CARE applications and information in customer bills.
Acting on their own personal commitment, SCE employees have volunteered many weekend hours to inform consumers about CARE. Recently a group of 60 SCE volunteers staffed a series of CARE enrollment workshops at 22 churches in Orange County. Approximately 38,000 applications were distributed, and more than 1,000 customers enrolled. Another effort at six churches in Los Angeles County recently resulted in more than 700 customers signing up for the discounted electric rate. Similar grassroots efforts are underway in other regions of SCE's vast Southern California service area.
Commenting on SCE's volunteer outreach effort at the church workshops, Jaime Soto, auxiliary bishop of Orange County, said, "I am very pleased that the church could be a part of this endeavor."
"We all feel a sense of personal responsibility to reach the most at-risk customers," said Frank Quevedo, SCE vice president for equal opportunity who has coordinated outreach efforts in local neighborhoods. "Due to language and cultural barriers, some customers are just hard to reach, but we're committed to doing all we can to reach them. That's why it's important for us to network with community- and faith-based organizations to meet people in their comfort zones."
Customers can call a toll-free number (800-447-6620) to obtain CARE information and to request an application. SCE phone representatives can provide information in Spanish, Chinese, Cambodian, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese.
# # #
An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 11 million via 4.3 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.