riversideca.gov
COVID-19/Coronavirus Update

City of Riverside Approves Utility Assistance for Low-Income Customers Facing Loss of Income Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Published: 05/07/2020




En español

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 7, 2020

Contact:

Phil Pitchford

Public Information Officer

951-826-5975

ppitchford@riversideca.gov

 

City of Riverside Approves Utility Assistance for Low-Income Customers Facing Loss of Income Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Emergency Recovery Assistance Program approved by City Council May 5

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Residential electrical customers of Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) who meet specific criteria are eligible for a one-time bill credit of $250 after the City Council approved a new $5 million program on May 5.

The COVID-19 Emergency Recovery Assistance Program (ERAP) is designed to help RPU electric customers who have lost their jobs, been furloughed or are facing a reduction of their income due to reduced work hours due to the Stay at Home orders put in place to fight the pandemic. Electric customers that already were participating in the SHARE assistance program and lost their jobs or have had income reduced due to the emergency also qualify and are eligible to receive the ERAP bill credit.

“Riverside is blessed to have its own utility, which provides us with the ability to provide this kind of custom program for our customers in an emergency,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “I’m proud to see RPU step up with another way to help our residents in such a challenging time.”

The decision recognizes the unprecedented impacts being felt throughout the national and local economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of residents are unemployed or furloughed due to temporary business closures, while other businesses are open but struggling financially.

The program is being fully developed following recent City Council approval. Interested parties should check for updates at RiversidePublicUtilities.com/Assistance.

The City Council previously directed Riverside Public Utilities to suspend shut-offs for nonpayment of water, electric, sewer and refuse utility services.  That order from March 17 remains in effect, ensuring that all customers continue to have access to necessary utility services regardless of the financial hardships faced due to the loss of household income. While shut-offs will not take place throughout the duration of the local emergency, customers will still be responsible for their bill.

The new program utilizes a bill credit because RPU cannot legally forgive a bill. The utility also offers customized repayment plans for bills that will accrue during the crisis.

Eligibility for the program is retroactive to March 1 and extends to three months following the end of the emergency declaration. The initial program will provide a $250 credit for 20,000 residential customers -- about 20% of RPU’s residential customers – at a cost $5 million.

“This is money well spent because it provides some reassurance to residents who are struggling at this difficult time,” Mayor Pro Tem Erin Edwards said. “I am thankful we have a local utility that understands our community’s needs and it able to respond in this manner.”

The effort is one of many made by the city-owned utility during the past 30 years. For example, RPU established its first low-income assistance program, the Sharing Households Assist Riverside’s Energy (SHARE) Program, in 1989 to provide low-income residents with utility bill assistance.

To learn more about RPU assistance programs, visit RiversidePublicUtilities.com/assistance.

For the latest information and resources regarding COVID-19 -- www.RiversideCA.gov/COVID-19

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