October 30, 2001

Utility responds to financial concerns created by economic downturn

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Oct. 30, 2001-Southern California Edison (SCE) today reminded its 3.6 million residential customers that several payment options are available to help them cope with the region's growing economic downturn.

"We want to help customers who are facing financial difficulties and temporarily cannot pay their utility bill," said Suzanne Middelburg, SCE's director of consumer affairs and customer satisfaction. "They need to call us promptly when they realize they have a payment problem. We're here to help them, and as long as a customer is working with SCE to remedy a late payment, their electricity service will not be disconnected."

SCE can offer a number of payment options approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), including a payment plan for past-due amounts.

"Due to the downturn in the regional economy, many customers are facing financial difficulty for the very first time and may not realize this help is available," said Middelburg.  While some customers might be reluctant to ask for assistance, she noted, they should be assured that all SCE credit extensions are confidential and will not affect credit histories if payment arrangements are followed. 

Information about the utility's payment assistance programs is also available by telephone at (800) 655-4555, or by visiting the utility's Web site at www.sce.com.  Programs include:

  • Level Pay Plan: levels out the highs and lows of seasonal bill changes, making them more predictable for household budgeting purposes.  Call (800) 434-2365.
  • California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE): provides a 20% rate discount for customers meeting the income guidelines established by the CPUC.  It also exempts these customers from the rate surcharge.  Call (800) 447-6620.
  • Energy Assistance Fund: helps pay winter electric bills for elderly, disabled or low-income customers facing extreme financial difficulty. Funding comes from donations by SCE customers, employees and shareholders. The United Way administers the fund through more than 150 community-based organizations. Call (800) 655-4555.
  • Medical Baseline Allocation: provides lower rates and an additional baseline kilowatt-hour allocation to households requiring electric equipment for survival or mobility, or if someone has a qualifying medical condition. Call (800) 655-4555.
  • Friendly Reminder Notification: provides notification to a relative or friend if a customer's bill becomes past due (third party is not responsible for paying the bill). Call (800) 655-4555.
  • Energy Efficiency Programs and Incentives: helps homeowners and renters lower their energy consumption and make their homes more energy-efficient. SCE also conducts free home energy surveys to identify practical ways a customer can reduce consumption and their bill. Call (800) 736-4777. 
  • Low Income Energy Efficiency Programs: offers a number of free services to help low-income households reduce energy use. Call (800) 736-4777.
  • Additional Contact for Elderly or Special-Needs Customers: provides a third- party contact if a full-time resident of a household is age 62 or older, or disabled, and an account becomes past due and subject to disconnection.

Additional billing and payment information

Customers who believe a bill is incorrect should contact SCE within five days. SCE will investigate and report back promptly.  Customers not satisfied with the results of SCE's investigation can submit a written complaint to the CPUC. Full details about a customer's rights and remedies are printed on the back of each monthly SCE bill.

To re-establish utility service when it has been disconnected for nonpayment, customers can pay the past due amount at any of hundreds of authorized payment agencies. A complete listing of payment locations is available by calling (800) 747-8908 or by visiting the SCE Web site at www.sce.com.  If, on a weekday, a customer has made payment, and contacts SCE before 3:30 p.m., service may be reconnected that same day.

SCE 's customer contact numbers:  English (800) 747-8908, Spanish (800) 441-2233, Chinese  (800) 843-8343, Korean  (800) 628-3061, Vietnamese (800) 327-3031, Cambodian (800) 843-1309, TDD (800) 352-8580.

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An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) 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.