PG&E to move half of electricity customers to time-of-use rates

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California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) aims to have moved 2.5 million electricity customers to time-of-use rates by March 2022.

The proposal has long been in the planning, having been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in July 2015, and forms part of the state energy policy on a cleaner future, PG&E says in a statement.

PG&E will transition eligible customers automatically, notifying them at least 90 days in advance. Customers may then choose an alternate time-of-use rate plan or another rate plan, including a tiered rate plan, at any time.

PG&E is planning the transition to occur by geographical region, starting in the Mendocino and Sonoma counties in April 2021 and expanding to additional counties in the following months.

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Customers excluded from the plan include those already on a time-of-use rate plan or enrolled in the Medical Baseline Programme, as well as those who live in hot climate zones and qualify for or are enrolled in PG&E’s low-income assistance programmes.

“We understand every household is unique, and so is the way they use energy,” says Laurie Giammona, PG&E’s senior vice president and chief customer officer.

“PG&E is committed to helping customers choose the electric rate plan that best meets their needs. Time-of-use rate plans give customers greater control over their monthly bill, while supporting California’s clean energy goals.”

The time-of-use plan includes peak pricing from 16h00 to 21h00 each day. The goal is to encourage customers to shift some of their energy use to times outside the peak when the rates are lower and the solar and wind renewable resources are the most plentiful.

Customers who automatically transition to the time-of-use rate plan will receive bill protection for the first 12 months. If a customer pays more on the time-of-use plan than they would have on their current rate plan, then a credit for the difference will be given for the first year.

PG&E started trialling time-of-use rates in 2018 with a sample of approximately 150,000 residential customers from across the service area representing diversity in climate, household size and energy use. The majority, 80%, stayed on the plan for more than a year.