Winter safety, savings tips & scholarships from PG&E

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By Harvey I. Barkin | FilAm Star Correspondent

SAN CARLOS – Early this month, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) gathered members of the multi-ethnic press for its fifth-year media roundtable for ways to save on Winter energy bills.

The tone on diversity was set by highest-ranking Asian and Senior VP, Energy Policy and Procurement Fong Wan. Manager, Residential Rate Options Lori Leiva proceeded to the heart of the matter on Winter energy savings. And winter gas safety was tackled by Supervisor, Gas Field Services Ben Pearce.

Leiva announced PG&E’s free energy savings assistance program for qualified renters and owners who live in five-year old houses, apartments or mobile homes. Those qualified can replace their old water heater, furnace or refrigerator, insulate and weatherproof their homes, and get compact florescent light bulbs that consume 70 percent less energy – all at no cost. To find out if your gross annual household income qualifies, go to or call 1-800-989-9744.

The main worries, according to Pearce, are gas leak and carbon monoxide poisoning. He said PG&E offers free gas appliance checks if you call 1-800-743-5000 or go on-line to their website. Call any time to make an appointment. But this holiday season, the wait can be from two weeks to a month, he said.

Manager, Community Relations Wendy Fukamaki introduced third year Calpoly Engineering student and 2014 STEM scholarship recipient Bernice Liu. Liu is a living testimony to PG&E’s $1,000 to $10,000 scholarship awards for college-bound high school and current college students in their Northern and Central California service area.

Last year, PG&E awarded about $430,000 in scholarships to 176 students, many of them being the first in their families to attend college. The scholarship comes mainly from PG&E’s employee groups including different ethnicities, disabled individuals, veterans, LGBT members, and women.

This year, $5,000 in scholarships (renewable up to four years) will be awarded to students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies in California schools. Target majors include: Engineering, Computer Science/Informational Systems, Cyber Security and Environmental Sciences. Opportunities for winners include paid Summer internships.

You might not be too old to be considered

Veterans and adults returning to school are also encouraged to apply. Eligibility will be based on community leadership, financial need, and personal and academic achievements.

Application is available at, to be submitted by February 1, 2017.

One significant PG&E grant is the Solar Suitcase program from their Better Together Classroom grants. Nineteen Northern California high schools participated in the second year of the grant. Partnering with We Care Solar, PG&E provided each participant school with a little over $8,000 worth of equipment and professional development. The best local environmental sustainability projects on video win the privilege of choosing two students to personally deliver solar suitcases to Kenya, Africa this year. A solar suitcase can power a small room, a refrigerator or a cell phone for a time. A big thing in a place where students go to gas stations or under street lights just to study.

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