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IID Board acts to expand financial assistance to more customers

-Editorial

Imperial Valley residents will have a new option to get a discount on their energy bill thanks to an action taken by the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors on Sept. 19. 

The Residential Energy Assistance Program is a PBC-funded customer assistance program providing income-qualified customers a discount of 20 percent on their energy bill, or qualified senior customers with a discount of 30 percent. The program is modified yearly, and as needed, to meet customer and budgeting needs. The current age to qualify for the 30 percent senior discount is 62. 

Staff recommended lowering the age to 60 years old. This age would affect new applicants and those already in the REAP program. 

“Our commitment has always been to the well-being of our customers. Recognizing the financial hardships many face, we’ve taken measures to extend our reach and support,” shared IID Board President, Alex Cardenas. “Now, even more residents will find relief in their electric bills through our comprehensive assistance programs. This Board’s united action today speaks volumes and our message is clear: We’re here for you.”

IID also offers up to $400 a year in financial assistance for those REAP customers who face disconnection through the district’s Emergency Energy Assistance Program (EEAP). IID also provides a reduced electric rate for REAP customers who need electricity to operate medical equipment through its Medical Equipment Assistance Program (MEEAP).

Currently, IID has about 12,000 of its 160,000 metered accounts enrolled in REAP. This assistance program alone, as of early September, had $3.1 million in available funds. There is also $1.4 million available for the EEAP program and $62,000 in available MEEAP funding.

IID encourages any customer who is having trouble with their electric bill to contact IID’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-303-7756 for assistance. The district may be able to provide temporary deferrals, and interest-free installment plans or make referrals to other programs that may offer assistance.

This action is part of a broader plan directed by the IID Board to address the high energy bills residents experienced this summer. 

The current Energy Cost Adjustment factor (ECA), adopted in 2015, was initially designed to reflect the variable costs of energy, including the costs of fuel and power purchase. However, the events of summer 2023, which include unforeseen market volatility, record-breaking temperatures, unexpected unit outages, and transmission disruptions, have highlighted the limitations of the current ECA. These market fluctuations resulted in bills for some customers doubling from one month to the next.

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