Local Groups Help Spread Energy, Money Saving Programs

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With as many as 500,000 customers now eligible for free energy-efficient home upgrades, the Southern California Gas Co. is partnering with local organizations to get the word out to low-income families who may qualify under newly updated eligibility guidelines.

“Our goal is to help all homes become energy efficient by at least 10 percent,” explained Jacqueline Flores, communications advisor for SoCalGas. “Partnering with local groups will help us reach out to our target audience.”

SoCalGas’ Energy Savings Assistance Program provides no-cost energy saving improvements to both renters and homeowners. Improvements include weather-stripping, caulking, faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads, attic insulation, thermostatic shower valves, water heater blankets and other minor home repairs.

Whenever Maria Perez meets with a new client looking for subsidized childcare at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundations (MAOF) office in Commerce, she provides them with a package of information about programs such as the Energy Savings Assistance Program offered through SoCalGas.

“If they qualify for one service based on their income, we let them know about other programs they may also qualify for,” said Perez, who serves as a financial advisor at MAOF.

Representatives from SoCalGas inform customers about energy saving programs during a community event earlier this year. (Courtesy of SoCalGas)

Representatives from SoCalGas inform customers about energy saving programs during a community event earlier this year. (Courtesy of SoCalGas)

“Many times the [clients] don’t know about the programs or look for them on their own,” she explained during a meeting sponsored by SoCalGas Tuesday at a restaurant on Olvera Street.

The new income guidelines for the utility’s energy savings program have increased the amount a household can earn and still qualify for assistance. Under the new income chart released in June, a two-person household may now make up to $32,040 a year to qualify, higher than the $31,820 previously allowed.

Customers may also automatically be eligible for the program if someone in the household receives benefits from public assistance program such as Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, CalFresh, National School Lunch Program or WIC.

Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Al Labrada told EGP he often invites SoCalGas representatives to community events to share the services they offer.

“It helps us build trust in the community when we partner with groups like SoCalGas who provide services that benefit them,” he said.

Often those who could benefit the most from these types of programs, such as the immigrant, indigenous and low-income, are the ones who don’t know the benefits exists, he pointed out.

“We rely on community leaders to outreach and build trust ourselves,” Flores told EGP. “Often times people think ‘nothing is free,’” but they are more willing to believe they can save money when they hear it from trusted voices from the community.

The Energy Savings Assistance Program is just one of the many customer assistance programs SoCalGas offers. The company has enrolled 1.5 million customers in its California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE), which gives qualified customers a 20 percent monthly rate discount. CARE enrollees make up approximately one third of all SoCalGas customers.

The energy saving home upgrades to showerheads, faucets and shower will also help customers save not just on their gas bill but on their water rates as well, points out Flores.

“We are here for the community and these energy saving improvements make a difference,” she said.

Bertha Monterrey, a parent coordinator at Fiesta Educativa in Lincoln Heights, told EGP she gladly provides her clients with information about energy saving programs. Fiesta Educativa provides services, training and advocacy services to people with disabilities and their families and Monterrey says SoCalGas has sponsored their events, adding they reach out to groups that are often ignored, like the disabled, those with language barriers and senior citizens.

“Many people think they don’t qualify but if they do, this can be a big help in bringing down their bills,” she said.

Update: Sept. 1  2:15pm A quote by a SoCalGas representative was changed to clarify that 10% was in reference to the energy efficiency of every home rather than their goal to only reach 10% of the all homes.

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