As part of ongoing comprehensive efforts to help customers financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) recently announced service disconnections will not resume this year. The moratorium on energy service disconnections put in place by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in March 2020 formally ended on Sept. 30 but service disconnections will not resume in 2021.
PG&E is automatically enrolling all residential and small business customers with past due balances over 60 days in new extended payment arrangements. The utility is also closely monitoring the development and implementation of the California Arrearage Payment Program (CAPP) included in the 2021-22 California State Budget. As part of the CAPP process, PG&E will not resume disconnections for residential and commercial customers eligible for CAPP until the CAPP program is finalized.
“We’ve been partnering with local, state and utility leaders to ensure our customers in need have access to critical assistance as the impacts of the pandemic continue to evolve and the statewide disconnection moratorium ends. PG&E will not immediately start shutting off service for nonpayment,” said Marlene Santos, PG&E executive vice president and chief customer officer.
The newly established CAPP program will offer financial assistance for California energy utility customers to help reduce past due energy bill balances accrued during the pandemic. Administered by the Department of Community Services and Development (CSD), the CAPP program dedicates $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to address Californian's energy debts incurred from March 4, 2020, to June 15.
Utility customers do not need to apply to receive assistance under the CAPP program. If a customer’s account is eligible — 60 days or more behind on payments — a credit will be automatically applied to some or all the customer’s bill, depending on availability of funds and the combined needs of all utility customers.
For months, PG&E has been working closely with CSD on program implementation details. PG&E anticipates CAPP funding to be applied directly to eligible customers’ accounts in the first quarter of 2022.
To coincide with the end of the moratorium, PG&E has also automatically enrolled more than 450,000 eligible residential and small business customers in the new COVID-19 payment plan program this month. The newly established program automatically enrolls eligible customers who are 60 days past due in extended payment plans. Customers will be automatically enrolled on an ongoing basis based on eligibility through September 2022 to avoid service disconnections. Customers automatically enrolled in the new extended payment plans will be eligible for CAPP funding.
PG&E encourage customers struggling to pay their bills to learn more about the following programs. Some customers can enroll in various programs without impacting eligibility for the extended payment plan or CAPP funding:
· Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers up to $1,000 to pay eligible household energy costs.
· Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) Program offers one-time financial assistance to qualified customers with past-due bills.
· Arrearage Management Plan (AMP) offers up to $8,000 in unpaid balance forgiveness, if a customer is enrolled in the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE) or Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program, owes a specific bill amount and are more than 90 days past due.
· PG&E’s Medical Baseline Program as well as various external programs such as the California COVID-19 Rent Relief Act helps income-eligible households pay rent and utilities, both for past due and future payments. Renters and landlords are eligible to apply.
Customers having a hard time paying their bills should contact PG&E immediately at 1-800-743-5000 or visit pge.com/covid19. Financial resources for business customers are available.