A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Energy Bill Assistance

A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Energy Bill Assistance

As summer heat arrives and the mercury rises, so does the amount of energy people use to stay cool.

With customers using more energy to keep comfortable, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is working to make sure customers are aware of the programs available to help save on their energy costs.

Save on monthly bills

SDG&E offers two programs for income-qualified customers to save on energy costs each month:

  • The California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program provides income-eligible customers with a discount of 20 percent or more on energy bills, keeping extra money in the bank each month to cover other expenses.
  • For households of three or more that do not meet the CARE program requirements, SDG&E offers the Family Energy Rate Assistance (FERA)* program. FERA-enrolled customers receive a 12 percent discount on electric costs each month.

*Customers enrolled in CARE are not eligible to receive the FERA discount.

Do I qualify for a bill discount?

Customers automatically qualify for CARE if already enrolled in public assistance programs such as Medicaid/Medi-Cal, Food Stamps/SNAP or Women, Infants & Children (WIC). For the complete list of qualifying public assistance programs, visit sdge.com/care.

CARE and FERA guidelines were recently updated to increase the minimum income threshold, making more SDG&E customers eligible to receive the bill discount:

California Income Qualified Assistance Programs

2016–17 Income Guidelines


Number in Household

Total Annual Household Income








$40,321 - $50,400



$48,601 - $60,750



$56,881 - $71,100



$65,161 - $81,450



$73,461 - $91,825



$81,781 - $102,225

Each Additional Person

Add $8,320

Add $8,320–$10,400

The guidelines shown above are effective June 1, 2016–May 31, 2017.

CARE program income guidelines are based on 200% federal poverty guidelines.

FERA income thresholds are based on 200–250% federal poverty guidelines.

How can I apply and start saving? 

Customers can apply for CARE or FERA online, by mail, through our automated telephone system at 877-646-5525, or by calling 2-1-1 San Diego.

Once eligibility requirements are met, the discount typically appears within 30 days of receipt of application, or on the next month’s bill.

Can I save on energy efficiency?

Households that qualify for CARE may also be eligible to enroll in the Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP), which follows the same income guidelines as CARE.

The state-sponsored program provides energy efficiency services and products to customers at low or no-cost to help customers reduce monthly bills by using less energy.

An SDG&E-authorized contractor will come to the customer’s home to complete energy efficient upgrades, which may include:

  • Energy-efficient lighting;
  • Repair or replacement of doors and windows;
  • Microwaves, refrigerators and high-efficiency clothes washers**;
  • Insulation, weather stripping and caulking;
  • Minor home repairs.

**Existing appliances must meet age requirements to qualify for replacement. Co-pay may be required for landlords who own appliances and pay tenant utility bill.

A full list of eligibility guidelines and enrollment information for all SDG&E customer assistance programs is available on sdge.com/assistance.

Solutions for every customer 

Regardless of income, SDG&E offers tools including payment plansrebates, the SDG&E Marketplacein-home energy surveys and more to help every customer reduce energy consumption and costs. For additional information and tips to save energy at home, visit sdge.com/save-money