Q: What is the Power Saver Rewards program, and do I need to apply?

A:  Southern California Edison has created a program to help incentivize people to reduce their use of energy during heat waves. As we have all seen last year, when there are heat waves the energy grid can be over impacted. This can cause power outages.

Sometimes the outages are made on purpose as rolling outages, meant to protect the power grid overall by creating short term outages in each location. This saves the overall grid energy and only impacts each customer for a short and managed amount of time.

There can also be power outages that are caused by grid overload that are not controlled, and those can last much longer and cause customers much more distress. When this happens food may go bad because the fridge is not on, you may suffer in the heat without air conditioning, and you may have medical devices that require power that you will be without unless you have a generator.

The Power Saver Rewards Program rewards you for voluntarily reducing your energy use during Power Saver Rewards events, like heat waves. If you proactively reduce your usage, you can earn $2 for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy you save. A typical customer who lowers energy usage during eight events over an annual season could earn $40 in bill credits. Those credits are applied the start of each year as compensation for the previous year’s power savings.

If you enroll in the program, you will get a notification the day before an event so that you can plan to reduce your energy use. The time frame for these events begins May 1st and continues through October 31st. They typically last from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and are most common on hot summer days. 

Southern California Edison (SCE) customers may be eligible to apply for this program if they have an SCE interval or SmartConnect™ meter. Learn more about who is eligible and who may be automatically enrolled here. You can also use this website to complete your enrollment form.

It is also important for SCE customers to know about their resources and support for customers with access and functional needs. If you or someone in your home has a medical condition that would be affected by a power outage, you can apply for notifications and for the Medical Baseline Allowance program.

You can self-certify your account so that SCE knows your household has this medical need. Then they will notify you before any planned outages. This certification is good for a 90-day period. Learn more and self-certify here

While being notified about a power outage does not stop the outage from happening, it can mean a lot to have that time to prepare. If you have this need, then have a plan in place around what you will do if you are notified about an outage. Have a backup source of power like a generator or have a plan to go to a cooling center, friend or family member’s home.

Planning ahead and thinking through what you will do can dramatically reduce your stress in the moment. Ideally, we would not have to expect any outages, but we cannot ignore the chances if it will cause you or your loved one’s harm. Think ahead and reach out for help if you do not know how to make a backup plan.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.

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