Pilot Program Launched to Help Clear Utility Bills and Regain Financial Stability


By Erol Kilic

On February 15, 2024, pursuant to SB 598 (Hueso) (Chapter 362, Statutes of 2017), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a decision on Rulemaking 18-07-005, a pilot program to use community-based organizations (CBOs) to address service disconnections and assist customers’ utility debts. The CPUC initiated the pilot program’s development in April 2022 to instruct utilities on creating proposals to assist California communities on high electric bills following the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Arrears Case Management Pilot Program is designed to reduce residential energy service disconnections and enhance reconnection processes for customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).

The Arrears Case Management Pilot Program compliments similar initiatives already underway, including the Arrearage Management Payment Plan and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan programs, all geared towards mitigating residential service disconnections. Under the new pilot program, utilities will contract with CBOs, such as Valley Clean Air Now and San Diego Community Power, to provide case management services to customers of the named utilities. These partnerships are estimated to assist up to 12,000 customers with managing unpaid bills, including arranging bill payment plans, and enrolling in energy assistance and energy efficiency programs. The program requires that utilities must award contracts to CBOs to begin assisting customers within 180 days. The pilot program is expected to end in 790 days, or roughly 26 months.


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