PG&E CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) Program
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PG&E CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) Program

The PG&E CARE program provides a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities.

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The PG&E CARE program provides a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualifications are based on the number of persons living in your home and your total household income.

Challenges
During these difficult economic times, PG&E is reaching out and helping eligible customers to enroll in the CARE program. Because of the tremendous geographic and ethnic diversity of the target community, PG&E realized its CARE enrollment would be greatly enhanced by launching an integrated communications and outreach effort. With a record-high unemployment rate in California and a challenging goal of enrolling 90% of the 1.6 million eligible customers by the end of 2011 (set by the California Public Utilities Commission), the PG&E CARE program implemented a variety of innovative outreach initiatives to enroll as many hard-to-reach customers as possible. These efforts resulted in 422,161 new customers and a 93% enrollment rate, surpassing the state-mandated goal over a year ahead of schedule.

Planning/Objectives
The PG&E CARE program’s overall objective is to implement effective communication methods directed toward multicultural communities, enroll eligible customers, and achieve measurable results.
The PG&E CARE program analyzed results of previous initiatives and explored new and innovative ideas to develop a comprehensive outreach plan that would effectively reach its multicultural communities and the newly-unemployed via a variety of mediums. The PG&E CARE program partnered with a third party vendor to create targeted lists of eligible customers using a number of criteria such as ethnicity, income level, veteran status, etc.

Execution
The PG&E CARE program helped customers by implementing innovative outreach initiatives. The PG&E CARE program enhanced its enrollment process by encouraging customers to apply for CARE via a land-line phone. The process helped CARE reach out to over 1 million customers. The customers who could not be reached by phone received a bi-lingual direct mail piece which included a CARE application. Customers who did not reply to the direct mail piece were visited by an authorized third party contractor who assisted the customers to complete and submit the application. This multi-faceted approach helped CARE enroll more customers.
The PG&E CARE program expanded its outreach efforts in social online media, executed a workforce initiative, participated in 130 multicultural community events, provided a multi-lingual toll free line, and integrated with the company’s local offices using self-service kiosks. The PG&E CARE program also leveraged with television and radio stations, partnered with school districts, community colleges, veterans’ offices and 177 Community Outreach Contractors (COCs) to reach out to the diverse communities PG&E serves.
Evaluation of Success/Results
The PG&E CARE program’s overall objective was to implement communication methods directed toward income-qualified communities, enroll eligible customers, and achieve measurable results. Success of the CARE campaign can be assessed by the following:
• There were 1,490,577 customers out of 1,619,856 eligible customers enrolled in the PG&E CARE program resulting in a 93% penetration rate.
• The PG&E CARE program enrolled 422,161 new customers.
• The PG&E CARE program saved customers over $645 million.
• The PG&E CARE program partnered with 177 COCs throughout PG&E's service area. COCs helped enroll 5,517 new CARE customers.
• The PG&E CARE team participated in 130 multicultural events, bringing a face and personality to the program.


 

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