Where Can I Get Help Paying My Electric Bill?

It is forecast to be 123 degrees in Cathedral City, CA on Friday this week and it will be over 120 for the next 5 days in a row. Summer is going to be hot! A member of our senior center came up to me today and asked “where can I get help paying my electric bill”? This person went on to explain that they have not turned their air conditioning on because they can’t afford it. How big of an issue is this? Do we know?

As summer temperatures soar, managing electric bills can become a significant concern for seniors, especially for those on a fixed income or facing financial hardship. Thankfully, there are several programs and resources available in California (and nationally) to help you stay cool and keep your electricity costs under control. Here’s a guide to some of the most helpful programs:

Where Can I Get Help Paying My Electric Bill?

To help low-income seniors in the Coachella Valley lower their electric bills during the hot summer months, several programs and resources are available:

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

This federally funded program offers one-time financial assistance to help low-income households with energy bills. Additionally, it provides weatherization services to improve energy efficiency in homes, which can help reduce energy consumption and lower bills over time. Go to CALIHEAPApply.com to apply.

California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE)

This program offers a 30-35% discount on electric bills for eligible low-income customers. Seniors can apply if they meet the income qualifications. Applications can be made through your utility company’s website or by contacting them directly. If you have SoCal Edison, you can apply here.

Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA)

For households whose income slightly exceeds the CARE limits, FERA offers an 18% discount on electric bills. Applications can be made through your utility company’s website or by contacting them directly. If you have SoCal Edison, you can apply here.

Medical Baseline Allowance

Seniors who rely on medical equipment that requires electricity may qualify for a lower rate on their energy bills and receive extra notifications before any planned power outages. There are no income requirements for this program, and it can be combined with CARE or FERA. Submit a Medical Baseline Allowance application form available through your utility company, typically requiring certification by a doctor. If you have SoCal Edison, you can apply here. Otherwise, check with your utility company.

Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESA)

This program provides no-cost weatherization services to low-income households, including insulation, weatherstripping, and energy-efficient appliances, which can significantly reduce energy usage and bills. Contact your utility company to see if you qualify and for assistance with the application process. SoCal Edison customers can apply here.

Go To A Local Cooling Center

Where Can I Get Help Paying My Electric Bill

Cooling centers are public places where you can go to stay cool during extreme heat. Check with your local government website or community/senior center for locations and hours. If you live in the Coachella Valley, you can download a list of cooling centers here.

Need Personalized Assistance?

If you need personalized assistance, organizations like Senior Advocates of the Desert can help low-income seniors navigate these programs and apply for the benefits they qualify for. They provide one-on-one support and ensure seniors get the help they need . You can visit the Senior Advocates of the Desert website for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Take Action!

This extreme heat we are experiencing is serious. Please don’t put your health in jeopardy. There is help our there. Utilizing these programs can provide significant relief and help manage energy costs more effectively during the scorching summer months in the Coachella Valley.

Please let me know in the comment section below if you know of other resources or suggestions to help people stay cool during this hot summer.

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