San Diego, CA

San Diego utility company offers customers up to $400 to pay gas and electric bills

Beth Torres

San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) is offering a lifeline of sorts to some customers beleaguered by high utility bills. The company announced the availability of $1 million in financial assistance for a select group of customers who are having difficulty paying their SDG&E utility bills.

The assistance is available through the Neighbor-to-Neighbor (N2N) program that will give one-time grants of up to $300 or $400 to customers experiencing financial hardship. SDG&E emphasized they are paying for this program using shareholder dollars, not money coming from ratepayers.

The establishment of the $1 million fund comes in the aftermath of SDG&E’s announcement that San Diego utility bills will more than double starting in January. The company went on a public relations campaign to explain the need for the rate hikes. Despite this, many customers were not satisfied, expressing frustration at the ongoing gas and electricity price increases.

Who qualifies to receive this financial assistance from SDG&E?
Photo bylopolo/123rf

If you dive into the details of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, you’ll find that it appears the program will help only a relatively small number of SDG&E customers. If you’ve been paying your bill on time (even if it’s been a struggle), you do not qualify for the program.

To qualify, you must be at least three months behind on your SDG&E bill. You must be a customer residing in the company’s San Diego or southern Orange County service territory. SDG&E says you must certify that you are currently “experiencing serious illness, temporary unemployment, disability or unusual hardship.”

You do not have to be low-income to qualify. Additionally, to apply you must not qualify for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding.

The N2N program will provide qualifying customers with up to $300 per household in assistance. If you participate in SDG&E’s Medical Baseline program, you could qualify for up to $400 in financial assistance.

How to apply

This SDG&E news release explains the application process as follows:

"Customers should call 2-1-1 San Diego or 2-1-1 Orange County, which will direct them to community-based organizations collaborating with SDG&E on the N2N program. SDG&E validates customer eligibility and applies N2N funds as credits to customers’ accounts to offset overdue bills."

What are your thoughts on SDG&E’s $1 million financial assistance program?

How have the recent utility rate hikes impacted you? Leave your feedback in the comments section.

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