Southern California Gas Company expands eligibility standards for program offering free energy efficiency upgrades to low-income families
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – More low-income households in Tulare County can now qualify for home assistance with updated guidelines from Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) for their Energy Savings Assistance program.
As of July 1, more customers are now eligible for no-cost energy-saving home improvements through the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) program. Over 1.6 million homes in the company’s service territory have been enrolled in the program since 2002. Those numbers are expected to rise as more households become eligible for qualification. The new guidelines expand eligibility criteria for customers whose income is up to 250% of federal poverty guidelines, compared to the previous criteria of 200%. The previous income eligibility guidelines for a family of four were up to $55,500, but now a family of four that earns up to $69, 375 can be eligible for no-cost energy efficiency upgrades.
In 2020, 17.1% of Tulare County residents were classified as being in poverty and the average household income in Tulare County was $52, 534, according to the U.S. Census. Last year in the county, 2,300 customers had their homes treated by the ESA program. This year, an estimation of 50,000 customers are currently eligible, according to SoCalGas estimations. Now, customers could save up to 20% annually on their natural gas bill depending on the energy efficiency upgrades performed.
The ESA program provides attic insulation, furnace repair/replacement, clothes washer, water heater repair/replacement, water heater blankets, door weather stripping, caulking, low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, minor repairs to doors and windows and other services to eligible customers.
Customers can qualify for the ESA program based on if they have an individual in the home who falls under the income guidelines or participates in a public assistance program. These programs include Medi-Cal/Medicaid, CalFresh, the National School Lunch Program and others. The program is open to renters and homeowners and income levels are updated annually to adjust for federal poverty guidelines.
The ESA program’s revised income guidelines were the result of Senate Bill 756, authorized by San Diego Senator Ben Hueso. He believes this program is an important tool for our state in the fight against climate change.
“Energy efficiency upgrades reduce energy utility bills, increase a family’s quality of life and comfort, support economic development and move the state closer toward its climate goals,” Hueso said.
He also added that the ESA program’s budgets are usually not fully expended, with hundreds of millions of dollars remaining unspent each year. This new law will help distribute those funds by expanding eligibility to include more low-income clients.
Veronica Medrano, a SoCalGas customer from Montclair, said she and her family are grateful for the weatherization repairds of SoCalGas and their contractor ACS GROUP.
“We received a new furnace and they installed a new water heater and we also qualified for a new washing machine. Our home is now more energy efficient,” Medrano said. “This program has changed our lives.”
Another SoCalGas customer assistance program is the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program, which will continue to provide a 20% discount on the monthly natural gas bill for customers who participate in certain public assistance programs or fall within 200% of federal poverty guidelines. A family of four that earns up to $55,500 is now eligible for the CARE discount.
To learn about SoCalGas’ customer assistance programs, including the CARE program, or to sign up for the Energy Savings Assistance Program, visit socalgas.com/assistance or call 800-331-7593. Information is available in the following languages: Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.