May 11, 2001
ROSEMEAD, Calif., May 11, 2001-With many consumers facing the prospects of increased energy costs and higher electricity bills this year, Southern California Edison is stepping up its efforts to enroll eligible customers in a state program that provides financial relief.
Established in 1989 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to help financially strapped ratepayers, the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program provides a 15-percent discount to qualifying customers meeting income guidelines. These customers also are exempt from rate hikes approved by state regulators in January and March 2001.
More than 60 SCE volunteers recently staffed a series of CARE enrollment workshops held at 22 Catholic churches in Orange County. Approximately 38,000 applications were taken and more than 1,000 customers enrolled through the effort. SCE has held similar events in the past year in an ongoing outreach effort to increase participation in the CARE program.
Currently, less than 60 percent of the eligible customers in SCE's service area participate in the CARE program.
Program eligibility is based on household size and income: for a one- or two-person household, a maximum annual household income of $21,250 is allowed; for a three-person household, $25,000; and for a four-person household, $30,100. For households with more than four persons, an additional $5,000 per person in income is allowed. These figures will change in June when new income guidelines take effect.
CARE is available to people 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 farm-worker housing.
"Many customers don't take advantage of the CARE program because they don't know about it or have difficulty completing the application process," said Frank Quevedo, SCE vice president for equal opportunity. "We want to change that because CARE has a direct benefit for our consumers most at risk."
Customers can call a toll-free number (800-447-6620) to obtain more information about CARE and to request an application. SCE phone representatives can provide information about the CARE program in Spanish, Chinese, Cambodian, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese.
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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.