Low-income residents in Morro Bay now are able to save $8 per month on their water and sewer bills to help offset rate increases implemented July 1.
The program uses a tiered system to determine who qualifies, setting household income levels based on the number of persons in the home.
A water and sewer rate hike that started July 1 raised the average Morro Bay resident’s bill by about $17 per month for this fiscal year.
The savings of $8 per month, or about $96 per year, is about 10 percent of the average bill.
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The discount program aims to “minimize the pain of the increase for those who most need it,” said Dave Buckingham, Morro Bay’s city manager.
Instead of determining its own income standards for the program, the city will use the same qualifiers that PG&E uses for its Customer Care plan for low-income residents. The PG&E program reduces utility bills for qualifying ratepayers.
Janice Peters, former Morro Bay mayor and a senior on a fixed income, said the amount of savings isn’t a lot but “it’s a step in the right direction.”
“It’s not much,” Peters said. “It’s $8 a month when you’re talking about increasing the bill already, but it pays for something. It’s about a month of my costs for one year. I can’t knock it. They did something.”
Those who are eligible should present a PG&E bill to the city showing eligibility to the Customer Care program and fill out an application form, which can be downloaded on the city’s website for the Utility Discount Program.
The paperwork may be mailed to the Administrative Services Department at 595 Harbor St. or presented in person to the office.
Application forms also are available at the city’s office.
Morro Bay officials will use funds collected from penalties, charges for non-sufficient funds from check fees, application fees and tax-deductible donations to cover costs for the new program.
The city has about $94,000 collected to subsidize reductions for low-income customers this year.
Of the city’s 5,400 water customers, 967 participate in the PG&E Customer Care program — meaning about 18 percent of Morro Bay residents would qualify.
The current savings program runs through June 30, 2016, and the city will reassess the discount next fiscal year.