County moves Local Assistance Center, PG&E loosens billing rules for fire victims

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MENDOCINO Co., 10/30/17 — The Local Assistance Center at Mendocino College, a one-stop shop where people affected by the fires can find helpful resources, is moving to a new location at the Raley’s shoppers center in Ukiah on Oct. 31. The center will be open from 10am – 7pm from Monday through Saturday until services are no longer needed. Staff from state and county agencies, FEMA representatives, counseling services, and more, will be available there for people who need help after the fire.

The new location is at 1375 N. State Street in Ukiah (the storefront to the left of Raley’s). For more information about resources after the fire you can contact the county at 707-467-6428 or check out their fire website. We’ve also put together a list of helpful fire resources here, and a list of places to donate and upcoming fundraisers here.

PG&E announced Monday that there will be billing flexibility for customers affected by the fires, in a press release outlining the new disaster billing procedures and policies. Customers who lost their homes in the fire will be billed through October 7, the day before the fire started, and they will be extending low-income assistance, decreasing or waiving requirements for deposits on new accounts, and suspended collections for impacted customers. The following is from a press release sent out on Monday, including details on the policy changes:

“At PG&E, our thoughts and prayers are with our customers and communities that have been impacted by these extraordinary wildfires. We realize this is a very difficult time for everyone and we want to help. With that, we are further enhancing our standing disaster billing and credit policies to allow our customers to focus on their families and futures. We will be with our customers every step of the way, towards rebuilding the communities that we are privileged to serve,” said Deborah Affonsa, PG&E’s vice president of Customer Service. 

PG&E Disaster Billing and Credit Policy

PG&E has a comprehensive disaster billing and credit policy in place that temporarily creates a billing hold, stopping bills during and after a disaster. Under the policy, the company will not disconnect any customers within the disaster area for non-payment during the period of the emergency. PG&E will offer deposit relief for red tag customer by returning deposits on accounts, if applicable and will not charge a new deposit for up to one year. This policy will be in effect for “fire-affected areas” which include up to a quarter mile outside the fire perimeter as determined by CAL FIRE. 

In activating this policy in response to the October 2017 Northern California Wildfires, PG&E has:

  • Suspended all collection actions at the onset of the wildfires for all customers, both residential and commercial, within the impacted communities and beyond for those impacted by poor air quality.
  • Protected customers from collection action for one year, in the impacted communities until further notice.
  • Waived account re-establishment deposits for affected customers.
  • Continued working with customers to provide flexible, reasonable payment arrangements as needed.  

PG&E has filed a request to the CPUC, by Advice Letter, to temporarily waive the cost of installation and removal of service extensions for temporary power under Electric Rule 13 for those customers who are rebuilding.

In order to support low-income customers impacted by the October 2017 Northern California Wildfires:

  • PG&E will extend all California Alternative Rate for Energy (CARE) eligibility by 12 months in impacted counties.  Approximately 42,000 customers will have their CARE eligibility extended into 2019.
  • PG&E is freezing all standard and high-usage Post Enrollment Verification (PEV) requests in impacted counties until at least Dec. 31, 2017 and will revisit extending this freeze.
  • PG&E has contacted nine Community Outreach Contractors, the community-based organizations who assist in enrolling hard-to-reach CARE customers, in impacted counties and sent information earlier this month on freezing standard and high-usage PEVs. Follow-up calls will be made to organizations as necessary.
  • PG&E has contacted The Salvation Army, the administrator of Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH), a PG&E- and customer-funded emergency assistance program, to request increasing assistance cap amount for the next 12 months for impacted customers from $300 to $600.

Billing and Credit Collections in Wildfire Impacted Areas

If a customer’s home or business was destroyed in the October 2017 Northern California Wildfires, the account will be billed through October 7, 2017, the day before wildfires started. For more information, please visit www.pge.com/wildfireresources and click on Billing for Affected Customers.

PG&E is continuing to work across the company to review policies and procedures to ensure we are supporting and providing relief to our customers who were impacted by the 2017 Northern California wildfires. Customers can reach us any time of day through our PG&E’s customer service helpline at 1-800-743-5000.

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