April 24, 2007

CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif., April 24, 2007—With California’s agricultural and associated industries still suffering the devastating effects of last January’s crop freeze, Southern California Edison (SCE) is encouraging eligible customers to take advantage of the assistance the utility is offering freeze victims.

Depending upon the actual amount owed, customers whose households were impacted by the freeze can receive up to $200 in utility payment assistance from SCE’s Rate Relief Assistance program more than once during a 12-month period. 

The assistance is available to residential customers living or working in one of the following affected counties: Tulare, Ventura, Kern, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Imperial. 

To receive assistance, eligible customers must make a request through a community-based agency.  Customers can contact SCE toll-free at 800-205-8596 to locate an agency near them.  Assistance will be available until funds are exhausted.  Currently, there is $6.3 million dollars available to fund the Rate Relief Assistance program. 

“The winter freeze might be ‘yesterday’s news’ for many Californians, but it was an economic tsunami for some of the state’s agricultural workers,” said Bill DeLain, a public affairs region manager for SCE.  “The freeze has had a domino effect on growers, pickers, packers, truckers, and other workers.  This aid is aimed at easing the financial strain for working families.”

SCE is working closely with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and local United Way chapters in the impacted counties to ensure that customers who may benefit from this program are aware of its availability.  Earlier this year, the company donated $150,000 to United Way chapters in the freeze-affected areas.

To further support efforts to help customers impacted by the January freeze, customer contributions made to SCE’s Energy Assistance Fund in April and May 2007 will be donated to local United Way chapters to help customers with basic needs. 

SCE also has implemented a payment-deferral program to assist growers whose crops were destroyed by the freeze.  Eligible growers can defer, without incurring late payment charges, up to 50 percent of each electricity bill incurred during the 12-month deferral period, beginning with their February 2007 bill.  For more information or to enroll, customers may call SCE at 800-634-9175.

Customers also can contact SCE at (800) 655-4555 to request payment arrangements or extensions.  Other SCE bill payment assistance programs available to SCE customers include:

  • California Alternate Rates for Energy program: customers who meet income guidelines established by the state can apply for a 20% discount on their electric bill. For applications, please call (800) 798-5723.
  • Energy Management Assistance Program: free services to help low-income households reduce their energy use.  For assistance, please call (800) 736-4777.
  • SCE’s Level-Payment Plan: spreads payments evenly throughout the year.  To enroll, please call (800) 434-2365
  • Medical Baseline Allocation: for customers requiring electric life-support, mobility equipment, or those with certain medical conditions.  For information, please call (800) 655-4555.

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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 13 million via 4.7 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.