Approximately 150,000 PG&E electricity customers will be placed on a new “time of use” rate plan starting in April unless they opt out, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Company officials.
PG&E said the new plan, which is part of a multi-year statewide effort, will promote more efficient energy use and provide customers with additional rate plan options.
Time-of-use rate plans support a more reliable energy grid by encouraging customers to shift electricity use to the times of day when demand is lower (“off-peak”) and when renewable resources, like solar power, are more plentiful.
Most Californians are currently on a tiered rate plan where the price of electricity increases as more energy is used. On a time-of-use rate plan, when customers use electricity is as important as how much they use. The biggest goal is to reduce energy use between the peak hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
By shifting some use, such as running the dishwasher or doing laundry during off-peak hours, customers will benefit from lower pricing and help increase the state’s reliance on clean energy, PG&E said.
Customers transitioning to the new time-of-use rate plan will be notified by mail and will be provided with additional information and tools. The majority of customers on the new plan will either see smaller bills or a small annual cost increase, assuming no change in energy use, according to PG&E.
PG&E said it will offer “bill protection” for the first 12 months to allow customers to try the new time-of-use plan risk-free. During that period, if customers pay more than they would have on their former rate plan, PG&E will credit them with the difference.
“PG&E is committed to working together with our customers to ensure they understand how small shifts in when they use energy can make a big difference for the environment,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Laurie Giammona. “We recognize that customers use energy differently and will provide information and tools to give customers greater control over how they use energy and help them choose the rate plan that best meets their needs.”
The new plan offers lower-priced energy 19 hours each day, while charging higher rates between the peak hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. While customers who take no action will transition into the new plan in April, they will have the option of keeping their current plan or choosing an alternate rate plan.
PG&E is working with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other energy companies on the statewide effort. Customers for the first phase were randomly selected from across the service area to represent diversity in climate, household size and energy usage, among other factors.
The full rollout of the new time-of-use rate plan to all other eligible residential customers is expected to start either in late 2019 or late 2020, pending a decision by the CPUC.