By taking advantage of some simple, realistic steps, customers can reduce energy bills this winter. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) knows some customers may be experiencing higher energy bills this winter.
A decline in natural gas production during the initial months of the pandemic, combined with drought conditions reducing hydroelectric generation is impacting the cost of natural gas around the nation. Natural gas prices from November 2021 to January 2022 are 90 percent higher than last winter. PG&E passes the cost of energy purchases – both gas and electricity – to its customers with no mark-up, meaning that what customers pay for fuel costs is what PG&E pays.
“We take a number of actions to reduce the impact of volatile natural gas prices but recognize even these proactive measures can’t prevent a spike like this from impacting a customer’s monthly bill. That’s why we are encouraging customers to act now by making simple changes, checking available rate options, and ensuring they are aware of and participating in financial assistance programs, if eligible,” said Aaron August, PG&E’s Vice President of Business Development and Customer Engagement.
Ways to Save Energy this Winter
Heating can account for more than 40 percent of energy costs. Here are ways to make sure that you’re getting the most from the money you spend on heating your home or business:
Set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, health permitting. Save two percent for each degree the thermostat is lowered.
Install and properly set a programmable thermostat. With proper use, programmable thermostats can save about $180 every year in energy costs.
Clean or replace furnace filters monthly to improve efficiency and save up to $15 a year.
Use window coverings to prevent the outside temperature from impacting the temperature inside the home. Closing blinds or drapes on a cold winter day can help to keep the cold from migrating further into the room.
Additionally, PG&E continues to work with customers who are having difficulty paying their bills.
In September 2021, PG&E began automatically enrolling all residential and small business customers with past due balances over 60 days in new extended payment arrangements. Customers are being automatically enrolled on an ongoing basis based on eligibility through September 2022.
As of December 2021, nearly 1 million PG&E customers were enrolled in the payment plans as well as the Arrearage Management Plan (AMP), both focused on helping customers reduce unpaid balances over time and protecting those enrolled from disconnection once the process restarts later this year.
Get Help with Past Due Bills
Customers struggling to pay their bills can learn more about the following programs:
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.
The Arrearage Management Plan offers up to $8,000 in unpaid balance forgiveness to qualifying customers who owe at least $500 or more on their gas and electric bill or at least $250 or more on their gas only bill and are more than 90 days past due.
The newly established California Arrearage Payment Program (CAPP) included in the 2021-2022 California state budget offers financial assistance for eligible customers with past due energy bill balances accrued during the pandemic.
Customers do not need to apply. The funding will be automatically distributed to qualifying customers in February and March 2022.
Only energy bill balances over 60 days past due for energy use from March 4, 2020, to June 15, 2021, qualify for relief under CAPP.
If a customer still has a past due balance after receiving a CAPP benefit, PG&E will offer a payment plan.
For additional questions on the program: contact the California Department of Community Services & Development.
California’s 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.
Ways to Reduce Future Energy Bills
Customers may also qualify for several programs at once and can start applying or enrolling now.
California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program saves 20 percent or more each month on energy bills for income-qualified customers.
Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program offers a monthly discount on electric bills for income-qualified customers with three or more people in the household.
Medical Baseline provides a lower monthly rate for customers with special energy needs due to certain medical conditions.
Budget Billing averages out energy costs for more manageable monthly payments and eliminates big spikes in bills due to seasonal changes.
Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program provides qualified customers with free improvements to make the home more energy efficient, safe, and comfortable.
For more information, call (800) 743-5000 or log onto pge.com/covid19