CNN Money, June 11, 2008: Low-Income Gas Company Customers Can Save Through Bill-Assistance Program

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June 11, 2008: 07:05 PM EST

More low-income customers now are eligible to receive a 20-percent discount on their Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) natural gas bills due to new income guidelines that went into effect yesterday for qualified customers enrolled in the money-saving, state-sponsored California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program.

“The Gas Company is actively partnering with community groups throughout our service area to enroll qualified customers in our assistance programs,” said Hal Snyder, The Gas Company’s vice president of customer service. “We hope to leave ‘no stone unturned’ when reaching out to the more than 350,000 customers financially eligible for the CARE program.”

Last year, The Gas Company CARE customers saved, on average, $200 annually under the program. About 225,000 customers throughout The Gas Company’s service area already have enrolled in the CARE program.

All nonparticipating residential customers will find a CARE application included in their July bill mailer. Customers also can call a toll-free, multilingual assistance line at (800) 427-2200 to request an application form, apply online in English or Spanish at, or download a CARE application in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese and fax or mail it to The Gas Company.

“We are encouraging everyone who comes through our door to find out if they qualify for the program and helping them sign up for this discount,” said Marlene Castro, social services manager for public-assistance organization Campesinos Unidos. “We are pleased to partner with The Gas Company in their outreach on programs that help our clients manage their living costs.”

Customers may be automatically eligible if they currently receive benefits from the Women, Infants and Children, Healthy Families, Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or LIHEAP programs.

Every year, the California Public Utilities Commission adjusts the maximum qualifying household income levels to reflect changes in the federal poverty guidelines. These higher income levels mean that more customers can now qualify. As of June 1, the new CARE income guidelines, based on pre-tax annual income, are as follows:

Number of People New Income Guidelines

Per Household Previous Income Guidelines (Effective June 1, 2008)

—————- ————————– ————————

1 or 2 $29,300 $30,500

3 $34,400 $35,800

4 $41,500 $43,200

5 $48,600 $50,600

Add $7,400 for each additional household member

Besides CARE, The Gas Company offers a variety of other financial assistance, appliance and home-improvement rebates, energy audits and energy-efficiency programs to assist its low-income, disabled and senior-citizen customers.

Additional information on these assistance programs is available from The Gas Company’s Web site,

Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.3 million consumers through 5.7 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company’s service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in diverse terrain throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. The Gas Company is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.

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