To help manage costs, SoCalGas offers several programs

With natural gas prices more than doubling since December, many Southern Californians may need help paying their heating bills this winter.

Fortunately, there are a number of programs available to lower your gas bill. Some are aimed at low-income households, while others try to help all Californians spend less on energy while staying warm.

Southern California Gas serves the vast majority of residents of Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties. The main exception is in Long Beach, where the city’s Department of Energy Resources provides gas service.

Both companies offer their clients the possibility of smoothing the next increase in their bills by spreading the costs over a whole year. This method, called the Level Payment Plan, charges an average monthly bill based on your total gas usage in 2022. At SoCalGas, your bill will adjust every six months to accommodate changes in your gas usage.

SoCalGas customers can enroll in the plan accessing your account online. Long Beach Energy Resources customers can call the utility company at (562) 570-5700 to enroll.

The program shifts spending from winter to summer, when people use much less gas. You’ll still pay the same through 2023, but the bills won’t be as high now and not as low in the summer.

For a short-term solution, Long Beach customers whose bills are more than twice their median amount can take advantage of the Payment Arrangement Plan of the company After making an initial payment set by the company, the rest can be divided into 12 months or more. You can apply onlinein it Long Beach City Hall or by calling (562) 570-5700.

The projected increase in costs is so drastic that many low-income households may need more help to maintain their gas service. That’s where a number of utility and government grant programs come into play.

Among them is the California Alternative Rates for Energy program, which reduces natural gas rates by 20% for households that qualify. You may qualify if you are enrolled in a welfare program such as Medi-Cal or CalFresh, or if your income is no more than approximately twice the federal poverty level (for example, a maximum of $46,060 for a family of three). .

SoCalGas customers can apply at the company website. Long Beach customers can apply at the Energy Resources web pagepicking up a form at City Hall or at a branch of the municipal library, or by calling (562) 570-2068.

Low-income seniors and disabled Long Beach residents may also qualify for the Tax Exemption Program for Users of Public Services, which offers a 20% discount and exempts from 5% taxes on public services.

SoCalGas also has a Gas Assistance Fund, which offers a one-time grant of up to $100 to help qualified households pay their bill. The aid – which is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until the fund is depleted – is available to households whose income does not exceed approximately twice the federal poverty level (although the limit is higher for one- or two-person households). Assistance is also limited to primary residences, and the applicant must be the person whose name is on the receipt.

The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program offers one-time grants to help pay gas and electric bills or make your home more energy efficient. Amounts for eligible households range from $268 to $781, depending on income and location, and go as high as $3,000 to reconnect households whose service has been shut off for unpaid bills.

Grants are distributed by community groups, such as the Asia Pacific Consortium on Employment y the Long Beach Community Action Association. To find one that serves your neighborhood, check out the state directory. You will qualify if you are enrolled in a safety net program or if your income does not exceed 60% of the state median income; that limit in 2022 was $49,717 for a family of three.

A good way to reduce gas bills is to reduce the amount of energy you use, although that may require some investment if you live in a drafty and aging home. SoCalGas offers a saving tool which analyzes gas consumption and offers recommendations on how to reduce it, including links to discounts to reduce cost of the most energy efficient appliances.

The Energy Resources website also offers energy saving tipseven broken down by month, and one list of measurements (many of them “do it yourself”) to reduce gas consumption at home.

The increase in the price of natural gas will also make the electricity bill more expensive, since much of the electricity is generated in gas plants. According to Ben Gallagher, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, residential bills for Edison customers will rise 7.2% in January.

For their part, customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will not see the increase in natural gas prices reflected in their rates until April, spokeswoman Mia Rose-Wong explained in an email. It has not yet been calculated how much the rates will change, but the company may turn to other sources of energy to reduce the effect of the gas price increase.

Low-income Edison customers have access to various discounts, including the CARE program, which lowers Edison’s rates by 30%, and the Family Electric Rate Assistance program, which reduces rates by 18%, Gallagher said. . The company also offers qualifying customers one-time grants of up to $300 from the Energy Assistance Fund, though these are only available to homes that run entirely on electricity.

Customers with electrical medical equipment can apply for lower rates through the Medical Base Program, Gallagher said. And just like SoCalGas, Edison and the DWP They offer a number of energy saving programs, including rebates for energy efficient home upgrades.

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