The Southern California Gas Co. is reminding customers that households whose income is low enough to qualify can receive a monthly 20 percent discount on natural gas bills.

The program is called the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE).

Last year such customers saved an average of $66.50 annually with the discount, according to Michelle Mueller, Gas Company vice president, customer services.

New enrollment guidelines for participating in the program went into effect Tuesday, June 1st, expanding the benefits provided under the program, Mueller said.

Mueller said The Gas Company has “an ongoing commitment” to make sure that eligible customers know about and take advantage of the discount program.

Every year, the California Public Utilities Commission adjusts the maximum qualifying income levels to reflect changes in the federal poverty guidelines, Mueller said.

The new guidelines are higher than previous guidelines set in June 2003.

“The new income guidelines mean that more customers can now qualify for the CARE program,” she said.

The million Gas Company customers who are enrolled in the CARE program represent 74 percent of those who are eligible to participate, she said, adding that 350,000 customers are eligible but have not enrolled.

For information:

in English, (800) 427-2200;

in Spanish, (800) 342-4545;

in Mandarin Chinese (800) 427-1429;

in Korean, (800) 427-0471; and

in Vietnamese, (800) 427-0478. Or