The utility companies understand that sometimes circumstances make paying your utility bills difficult. To help with this, they have created discounted schedules for those in need. California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) and Low Income Rate Alternatives (LIRA) were designed to help low income families afford the energy they need for their homes. You have probably heard that it is a twenty percent discount, but that is not quite accurate.
Southern California Gas Company (SCG) does take twenty percent off the usage rates, but they also take a little off the daily rate. Edison (SCE) and PG&E take a different track and use a separate schedule with discounted tiers and daily rates. This link is the standard D schedule for SCE and this link is the D-CARE schedule for SCE. You can see there is much more than a twenty percent discount on the delivery rates, but the generation (URG) rates remain the same. It is a similar situation with PG&E standard versus CARE rates. SDG&E takes a different track entirely that could account for an article on its own, so we won’t get into that here.
Below is a sample of Edison rates. The top grid is Standard and the bottom is CARE. Overall at this usage, the discount is about 30%, which is much higher than advertised. The Baseline tier is discounted at about 61% while the topmost tier is discounted at about 42%. The Generation charges are exactly the same for both. CARE also drops the Bond Charge and State Tax to $0.00.
LIRA offers discounted usage rates and / or minimum monthly charges. Each water company does it their own way, and not all of them are required to offer it. The application process is simple and guidelines clear. Often, if you qualify for one utility, it will qualify you for the others that offer discounted rates in your area. Here is the eligibility information for SCE.
Probably the least understood and most underutilized program offered is Medical Baseline. A doctor’s note may be obtained when a resident has a medical condition that requires him or her to run special equipment in the home or keep climate controls at a specific temperature. This program does not discount any rates. It provides additional baseline allotment, resulting in more usage per tier.
You absolutely may combine Medical Baseline with CARE discounts for maximum assistance. If you think a resident may qualify, please have he or she contact the utility company to apply. Links are below.
Another important note is per California Civil Code, Article 4, section 798.43.1 property managers are required to provide written notice of CARE information to residents each year on or before February 1.
Do you have any questions about CARE, LIRA or Medical Baseline? Let me know!