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How You Can Erase Your Unpaid Utility Bills In SoCal

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SoCal Gas Community Service Office in Porter Ranch. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
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If you lost income during the pandemic and have been letting those gas or electric bills go unpaid, you may be able to erase the debt under new rules adopted this month.

State utility regulators have ordered Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company to start a debt forgiveness program in April 2021, when a moratorium on utility disconnections ends.

Customers enrolled in programs to lower utility bills for low-income households (people who lost jobs in the pandemic may qualify) can sign up for a new “Arrearage Management Plan” starting in April 2021.

For every month the customer makes an on-time payment of their current bill, one-twelfth of their overdue debt is eliminated. After a year of consistent payments, the past debt would be gone.

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The state order does not benefit electric utility customers within the city of Los Angeles because the Department of Water and Power is a city-run utility and not subject to the same state regulations. The DWP has programs to spread repayment of debt over several months, but it has no provisions for debt forgiveness, a spokeswoman said.

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