One in four families in Southern California can't pay their energy bills, survey reveals

During the first days of September, California had a high energy demand due to the heat wave.

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

One in four families in Southern California are unable to pay their energy bills in full at least once in the past yearrevealed the US Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.

The survey indicated that more than one-third of households in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties had to cut back on basic necessities, such as food or medicine, to pay their bills.

The study indicated that 24% of residents kept their home at a temperature they considered unhealthy or unsafe.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles has partnerships with SoCalGas and Southern California Edison to offer assistance to those who need help. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power also has considered financial assistance programs for its customers.

Historically, the most affected residents have been low-income, as well as Latino and Black households.

About 39% of Families earning less than $50,000 were unable to pay their electric bills in full at least once in the past year, compared to the 5% of residents with incomes of $150,000 or more.

34% of Hispanic families did not have funds to pay for electricity servicewhile for white and Asian families it was 15% and 13%, respectively.

“We had the pandemic, people had job insecurity, job loss, housing insecurity, a lot of things came together,” said United Way Greater Los Angeles director Norma Rodriguez.

“And those people are the most affected now, as they are trying to get back on their feet financially. Combine that with inflation, rising gas prices, it's a perfect storm for those communities,” she added.

In addition, the heat wave also worsened the situation.

During the recent heat wave that happened in early September, California experienced high demand for electric power.

Nevertheless, prices rose even higher during that stage, with electricity prices more than double what they were during the month of August.

Los Angeles County Public Works will not shut down or cut off services for customers who cannot pay their bills as of at least September 27, 2022. However, as was the case during the pandemic, politics will not be forever.

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