BEWARE! gas/electric increase!
I don't know about other states, but I would guess it is much the same. Because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, prices are going to increase starting next month. Gas prices are expected (according to the news this morning) to increase by as much as 70%!!! So if you have gas, start looking at ways to conserve now. And electric is supposed to go up more gradually. But, PG&E has put in a bid for a 40% increase starting in January. Even if this weren't the case, Winter is always a peak time for energy usage! Please post a comment with some creative ideas for energy conservation. Meanwhile, in CA, there are some programs you may want to be aware of: First, you can change your service plan today for a Balanced Payment Plan, which estimates your bills quarterly and spreads the high winter costs out over the summer, to try and make things a little easier. FERA - Family Electric Rate Assistance Program - provides a tier 2 electric rate reduction for large households of 3 or more persons with middle to low income CARE - provides a 20% discount on utility bills for low income households. Income must be < $24,200 for 1-2 persons, < $28,400 for 3 persons, and < $34,200 for 4 persons. (note: you cannot be on both CARE and FERA) The Salvation Army runs a wonderful program called REACH which provides a ONE-TIME payment assistance. They generally won't take you till you get a shut-off notice, but then they will get you an extension so they can pay a maximum amount for you. It's best to apply for this program in December or January, when bills are highest and need is greatest. LIHEAP - Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program - provides emergency bill assistance and weatherization. I don't know much about this program, but it's worth checking out! If you have certain documented disability needs (MS is one that springs to mind), there is a program called Medical Baseline. It's kind of hard to qualify, but worth at least checking out. Get more details on all these programs from pge.com