Lake Merced Transport by Robin Scheswohl

SFPUC Team Members inside the Lake Merced Transport (LMT) System. LMT captures and controls sewage and stormwater runoff from the extreme Southwestern portion of the City.  Photo by Robin Scheswohl, SFPUC

SFPUC Extends Emergency Assistance Program, Continues Ban on Water Shut-Offs

Initiatives provide discounts up to 35% off sewer bills for eligible residential customers as well as energy and water discounts
SFPUC Announcement, Emerging Issues, Members in the News

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is once again extending its Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program, which is designed to help residential customers struggling to pay their water, sewer and Hetch Hetchy power bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which launched in May, was set to expire at the end of the year, but will now be expanded through the end of June 2021, as the global pandemic continues to negatively impact San Franciscans.

Additionally, a similar program to help nonprofit organizations and small businesses has been extended through the end of June 2021. That program, which provides 20 percent discounts off water and sewer bills for eligible businesses and nonprofit organizations struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, was also set to expire at the end of the year.

Michael Carlin, Acting General Manager

The SFPUC has also extended its suspension of water and power shut offs due to late payments, postponement of liens and collections, waiver of late fees, and rental payment deferments for tenants of our facilities.

“While there are reasons to be optimistic about promising vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, the truth is that the upcoming months are projected to be extremely harsh for our residents and businesses,” said SFPUC Acting General Manager Michael Carlin. “The end of this terrible pandemic is in sight, but until then, we need to do our part to help those struggling financially during these difficult times.”

SFPUC Approves Assistance Extension

The SFPUC Commission voted to approve extensions to the programs at its meeting on Tuesday.

Residential customers who have been financially impacted as a result of COVID-19 and had a pre-pandemic maximum household income under 200 percent of the San Francisco Area Median Income are eligible to apply for the Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program. The emergency program’s expanded income thresholds will make many more residents eligible for a discount on their SFPUC utility bills through June 2021.

The following reduced rates are available:

  • 35 percent off sewer bills
  • 30 percent off Hetch Hetchy power bills
  • 15 percent off water bills

To enroll in the program, eligible customers can complete an online application form here. Existing participants will be automatically enrolled into the extended residential assistance program.

Program Assists over 5,000 SFPUC Customers

Since the program launched in May, more than 5,400 residential customers have benefited from the initiative. Those customers have saved a monthly average of $53 on their water and sewer bills, and $15 on their Hetch Hetchy power bills.

To qualify for the program, residential customers must:

  • Be a residential customer seeking a discount for your primary residence, with an SFPUC account serving only your dwelling unit under your own name; and
  • Have experienced a loss of income related to COVID-19 or the shelter-in-place order and be experiencing financial hardship and difficulty paying your water and sewer and/or Hetch Hetchy power bills.

The Emergency Nonprofit and Small Business Assistance Program was launched in July by the SFPUC. To qualify for the 20 percent discount, small businesses and nonprofit organizations must show the following:

  • An active water and wastewater account from the SFPUC that is not for residential or municipal use. The account must be in the name of the nonprofit or business, or in the name of its owner and manager. Landlords and property managers cannot apply on behalf of their tenants.
  • A demonstrated loss of income related to COVID-19 or the shelter-in-place orders that are resulting in financial hardships.
  • A maximum of 50 full-time employees before the City’s shelter-in-place order began on March 16.

Since that program was launched, more than 620 nonprofit organizations and small businesses have benefitted, receiving an average monthly savings of $183.

The extension of the residential and commercial Emergency Community Assistance Programs and the continued suspension of shut offs due to non-payment are just some of efforts the SFPUC is embarking on to assist the community during the global pandemic.

Earlier this year, the SFPUC started a program to offer customers who enroll in either the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) or the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) program a one-time $50 credit from CleanPowerSF on their October electricity bill.

In total, that bill relief initiative provided approximately $2.8 million in bill credits to more than 50,000 CleanPowerSF customer accounts. It also helped direct about 700 additional customer accounts to enroll in the CARE or FERA programs, which provide these customers with on-going discounts of at least 18 percent on their electricity bills.

SFPUC Community Assistance

In Southern California, the SFPUC partnered with NextEra Energy Resources to provide $100,000 in grant funding for scholarships at Palo Verde College and $170,000 to various community organizations as part of COVID-19 relief efforts in Blythe, California and its surrounding area in Riverside County. A subsidiary of NextEra provides solar power from Blythe for the SFPUC’s CleanPowerSF program. Additionally, the SFPUC partnered with its private contracting firms to support more than 45 small businesses in the Bayview with $150,000 in grant funding.

As always, payment programs are available for customers who need more flexibility paying their utility bills. Customers can learn more about available bill relief programs at

The SFPUC already offers discounted rates to customers whose income makes them eligible under federal guidelines through its Community Assistance Programs (CAP). The agency is working to proactively reach out to customers who may qualify for these longer-term savings programs that won’t expire, in addition to temporary bill relief programs.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residential customers, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at