211 offers energy bill assistance

December 18, 2008 10:07:38 AM PST
Bay Area residents struggling to pay high Pacific Gas and Electric Co. bills in the wake of this month's cold snap can dial 211 for help, the United Way. The free 211 referral service can help residents access information on available energy assistance programs. A variety of relief programs exist, each with different requirements.

The hotline can also tell residents where to find the nearest seasonal warming center and other types of cold-weather resources. The number also offers year-round resources to refer callers to food, shelter, counseling, childcare and employment assistance.

The 211 line is staffed 24 hours a day in more than 150 languages. The service is available in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Solano counties. Residents in San Mateo and Sonoma counties, or residents who cannot dial 211, should call (800) 273-6222. Hearing-impaired residents can call (415) 808-4440.