CARE Program -
California Alternate Rates for Energy

 Note Regarding References to DRA: Until September 2013, The Public Advocates Office (the Office) was previously known at DRA - the Division of Ratepayer Advocates.  



The CARE discount is California’s primary rate affordability tool. Relative to the estimated number of eligible households, the utilities have enrolled approximately 93% of this number onto the CARE program. In May 2011, California’s investor owned utilities filed consolidated Applications requesting CPUC approval of their $4 billion statewide CARE program and budgets. On August 23, 2012, the CPUC issued a Final Decision approving CARE programs and budgets that implements the CARE and ESAP programs for the 2012-2014 years. In addition, the CPUC continues consideration of several pending issues in Phase II of this proceeding, with an ambitious schedule of workshops, reports, and policy consideration in the remainder of 2012 and 2013.

Public Advocates Office Position

Public Advocates Office (the Office) supports the CPUC’s August 2012 CARE decision for its quality enhancements to the enrollment and retention of CARE customers that the utilities’ requested for 2012-2014 that will continue to serve more than 90% of eligible customers.   The enhancements include:  

  • Provides new rules for enhanced verification for the highest-using electric customers.  
  • Preserves categorical eligibility (for both CARE and ESAP) which leverages efficient eligibility best practice strategies by utilizing other social programs that have already qualified participants.  
  • Retains and expands a targeted statistical approach to enhancing program integrity. 
  • Refines verification process by requiring proof of documentation from slightly more customers. 
  • Implements an updated needs assessment test. 

Going forward, the Office supports a process to evaluate whether the CPUC could potentially achieve a greater impact on affordability for low-income customers by more carefully targeting the same subsidy amount rather than increasing the total amount.  Instead of the current one-size-fits-all discount, the CPUC should consider whether the CARE program should target  the varying degrees of poverty among CARE customers.

In November 2012, the Office protested PG&E’s request to the CPUC to remove the Categorical Eligibility option for CARE program renewal because it contradicts the CPUC's August 2012 order to continue to utilize this method.

See the Office’s November 13, 2012 Protest.

The Office filed its Opening Brief on February 2, 2012. 

On August 1, 2011, the Office filed a Prehearing Conference Statement

See the Office’s June 20, 2011 Protest to utilities' applications.


Proceeding  Status

See the Proceeding docket, consolidated with the 2012-2014 Energy Savings Assistance Program.