New BWP Utility Subsidies Begin to Take Effect

First published in the July 2 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Income-eligible Burbank residents can apply for a subsidy to their electric bills starting this month, following the City Council’s recent approval of a new program.
The Burbank Utility Service Subsidy aims to offset the Burbank Water and Power service rate increases, which also began on July 1 and averages around $14 more a month for single-family customers and $8 for apartments and condominiums, the utility said.
The new program, which provides a 12% discount to households at or below 60% of the city’s median-income level, will provide an estimated $8 monthly discount to multi-family households and $14 discount to single-family households.
A single-person household making $69,580 a year or less would be eligible for the program, as would a two-person household making $76,538 or a four-person household making $92,610. More qualification information is available on BWP’s website.
Jeannine Edwards, BPW’s assistant general manager of sustainability, marketing and strategy, told the City Council on June 21 that the subsidy effectively helps cover the upcoming 6% electric-rate increase and the 9% water-rate increase.
“The intent of this is to help customers who are struggling to keep up with inflation and the cost of living,” Edwards said. “So we decided to set it at a level that will help offset their utility services bill increase.”
Participants can show proof of income by providing W2 forms and two paycheck stubs, their most recent tax return or other documents. Residents who are in the Burbank Program, Activity and Service Subsidy initiative, which has a stricter income eligibility requirement, can show proof of their participation in that service to enroll in BWP’s program.
Residents seeking to participate in the program cannot be enrolled in BWP’s Lifeline Rate Assistance or Life Support Rate Assistance programs. Those initiatives, Edwards said, provide greater electric rate discounts than the new subsidy does.
Funding for the $1.1-million program comes from a charge on customers’ electric bills and must be used for initiatives helping low-income residents pay those bills, or for renewable-energy projects.
BWP officials said they expect to fund the program for between two and four years, depending on how many people participate in it. Edwards estimated that between 2,500 and 5,000 residents will enroll in the program.
Councilwoman Sharon Springer applauded the utility’s implementation of the program. The council had recommended that BWP launch a financial-assistance initiative when it discussed approving the utility-rate increases.
“Thank you so much for doing this so quickly,” Springer said, “Because, basically, we’re helping between 2,500 and 5,000 people.”