Senator Bradford Introduces SB 1135 Saving Low-Income Californians Money on Their Energy Bills
Calif. State Senator Steven Bradford (File Photo)
Senator Bradford (D-Gardena) introduced SB 1135 to help low-income residents of California pay their monthly electric and gas bills. SB 1135 expands the authority of the California Public Utilities Commission to take into account the cost-of-living in a customer’s region when determining eligibility for the State’s highly successful, California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program. This program provides low-income customers a 30-35 percent discount on their electric bill and a 20 percent discount on their natural gas bill.
“While the CARE program has been extremely helpful for individuals and families struggling to pay their utility bills, the current income eligibility requirements are too rigid for those living in high-cost regions of our state,” said Senator Bradford. “With no difference in income, a family living comfortably in one county would be living in extreme poverty if they were living in another — such is the case for many residents of Los Angeles and the bay area.”
Currently, the CARE program offers assistance to energy utility customers with household incomes that are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. In 2017, the Federal Poverty Level for a family of four was $24,600, establishing $49,200 as the cut-off for CARE eligibility. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an income of $105,000 is considered low-income for a family of four living in San Francisco County.
“California is a large, economically diverse state,” continued Bradford. “If we truly wish to assist those who are poor or living in poverty, we should be considering not only their income, but also the cost of living in their geographical region. Too many Californians living in high-cost areas are ineligible for this valuable state program despite earning an income proportionately equal to households in other lower cost regions of our state.”