Free Battery Solution Keeps Critical Care Customers Safe During Outages
by Sally Jeun
As a caretaker, Debra Chapman’s biggest concern for her 86-year-old mother, who has lung cancer and depends on an oxygen concentrator, is her well-being, safety and comfort.
So Chapman was happy to learn her mother, a Sun City resident living in a high fire risk area in Riverside County, was eligible for Southern California Edison’s Critical Care Back-up Battery program.
The program provides a free portable backup battery and solar panel to eligible customers who depend on medical equipment for life-support purposes. The solar panel charges the backup battery when electricity isn’t available.
“By receiving this device from Southern California Edison, it means my siblings and I are prepared with plans for any type of emergency, including wildfires and unexpected outages,” she said.
“Not all individuals who experience a power outage are impacted the same way,” said Kari Gardner, SCE senior manager of Consumer Affairs. “As a utility, we’re mindful of these vulnerabilities. With this battery solution, customers can continue to operate their medical devices without interruptions and help them better sustain their immediate medical needs while in their homes throughout the duration of a power outage, including Public Safety Power Shutoff events.”
To be eligible for the program, customers must be:
- Identified as a critical care customer through SCE’s Medical Baseline program whose physician has verified on the application that they require medical equipment for life-support purposes and cannot be without power for more than two hours;
- Enrolled in SCE’s income-qualified California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) or Family Electric Rate For Assistance (FERA) programs; and
- Reside in a high fire risk area.
Eligible customers will receive a letter informing them of their eligibility with details on how to work with an SCE vendor to get the right-sized battery delivered to them.
Customers who are not low income and do not meet the eligibility requirements for a free backup battery are still encouraged to sign up for the Medical Baseline program if they use electrically powered medical equipment. It will lower their rates to help offset the cost of the additional electricity used because of their medical equipment and lets SCE know that someone in the home uses medical equipment.
Similarly, customers who don’t rely on medical equipment may qualify for SCE’s income-qualified CARE or FERA programs to save approximately 30% on their monthly electric bills based on their household income.
SCE also offers the following rebates and incentives to help customers prepare for potential emergencies, outages or PSPS:
- $50 rebates on portable power stations;
- $300-$500 rebates on portable generators for customers who depend on electricity to pump water; and
- Cash incentives for battery storage or generation equipment through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).
These programs help better serve the needs of vulnerable populations, including individuals with access and functional needs (e.g., people with disabilities, seniors, children, limited English proficiency and transportation disadvantaged), especially during PSPS events.
“Another thing people can do is connect with the 211 agencies throughout our service area,” said Gardner. “They have a lot of information and resources available to individuals in our service area and may be specific to their counties for direct resources.”
Chapman is relieved to have these resources at her fingertips.
“With the new battery and solar panel providing enough power to run my mom’s oxygen concentrator for a day or so, it will give us enough time to plan for longer-term needs during an outage,” said Chapman. “We would not be able to afford something like this on our own, so we’re grateful to be part of this program.”
To learn more about SCE’s wildfire mitigation efforts and PSPS, visit: sce.com/wildfire.
To learn more about emergency preparedness, visit: sce.com/beprepared.
For details about SCE’s PSPS customer care programs, see this fact sheet.