SDG&E Says $16M in Funds Will Help Struggling Customers With Energy Bills

Here is more about the two programs that will receive the millions in funding

File photo of bills in a door's mail slot.
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San Diego Gas & Electric says it will provide an additional $16 million in shareholder funding to help customers struggling with their high energy bills.

Not all the money is going directly to ratepayers, though. A total of $10 million is headed toward a fund that will "support local nonprofit, community-based organizations that provide essential services to vulnerable customers," a company statement said.

It is not yet clear how customers would be able to access this resource; that info is expected to be released in the coming weeks. What they did say was that SDG&E will seek proposals that support programs for vulnerable and lower-income residents, including seniors.

"By working directly with local nonprofit organizations that have the expertise and are best equipped to identify resource needs, the funding can have the greatest impact on communities in need," SDG&E said in a statement.

Another $6 million will go to a program called "Neighbor-to-Neighbor," which was established in January and funded by shareholders. The one-time bill assistance discount helps those with temporary financial hardship get a credit towards their SDG&E bill. The additional funds will help increase the amount each recipient can receive -- currently up to $600 -- and will allow more residents to qualify for the program, SDG&E said.

"The unprecedented natural gas prices in the Western U.S. this winter have put a strain on families, and we must do more to help ease the financial burden facing our customers," said SDG&E CEO Caroline Winn. "We are listening and remain focused on supporting the communities we serve during this challenging time. This additional funding will continue our efforts in assisting customers experiencing hardships."

Customers can get more information about the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program and other SDG&E assistance programs here.

Customers have complained loudly about recent high bills, prompting California Gov. Newsom to call for a federal investigation into high natural gas prices.

SDG&E said "unprecedented market conditions in the Western United States" caused this winter's soaring prices. The commodity price of natural gas in February decreased by 68% from January's prices, from $3.45 per therm to $1.11 per therm, the utility said. The price per therm was $2.36 in January 2022, as a comparison. SDG&E expects March's commodity prices to be much lower.

What this means for the typical residential customer is a gas bill -- comprised of the commodity cost plus delivery charges and other mandated fees and taxes -- is expected to decrease to about $110 this month, from about $225 in January, according to a statement from the utility.

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