As PG&E invests in our energy systems to make them safer and more reliable, we are also mindful of the importance of keeping service affordable for customers. PG&E’s average residential bill remains below the national average, thanks in part to our energy efficiency programs, which help customers save money by reducing their energy use. We also work closely with customers who are facing financial challenges.
We take a multipronged approach to keep our energy services affordable for customers throughout our service area.
Saving Money through Energy Efficiency
PG&E helped customers save $227 million on their energy bills through energy efficiency programs in 2015.
PG&E’s suite of energy efficiency programs plays an essential role in energy affordability. Our website includes an extensive set of energy-saving tips and lists of appliances and equipment that are eligible for rebates, as well as opportunities to upgrade the entire home. It also provides tools like the Home Energy Checkup and Home Energy Reports that help customers analyze their usage and pinpoint ways to save.
PG&E also provides customers with a number of rate plans so they can choose the option that best fits their needs. The SmartRate™ plan enables customers to save money by conserving power during as many as 15 SmartDays™ each summer, when their rates are higher because demand for electricity is high, receiving in exchange a reduced rate during certain months of the year. Customers who sign up for the SmartAC program receive a $50 incentive and free AC Check Up for participating in this easy and automated program that helps prevent power interruptions during high-usage times like the hottest summer days. And more broadly, time-of-use rates enable customers to save money by reducing and shifting some of their usage to lower cost off-peak times of day.
Helping Customers in Need
In addition to our energy efficiency efforts, PG&E works closely with customers facing financial challenges so that they continue to receive gas and electric service. Programs designed for those in need include:
- The California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program, which offers a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualified households can save 20 percent or more on their bills.
- Balanced Payment Plans, which spread costs out evenly over the year and eliminate swings in customers’ monthly energy bills caused by seasonal-related changes in usage.
- The Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) plan, which provides emergency energy assistance of up to $300 to low-income customers experiencing a crisis that prevents them from paying their gas or electric bill. This one-time assistance program, funded in part with charitable dollars from PG&E’s shareholders, is administered by The Salvation Army.
- The Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA), which provides a monthly discount on electric bills for income-qualified households of three or more people.
In addition, discounts are available for customers with medical conditions that may prevent them from paying their bill on time or regularly.
Providing Assistance to Businesses
We actively partner with local, regional and statewide economic development organizations in a variety of ways, from providing funding to nearly 50 organizations to having employees serve in leadership roles on boards of directors and organizing local economic forums and training programs.
PG&E’s economic development team provides one-on-one assistance to current and future commercial customers who are considering competing locations inside or outside California. The team directly supports local efforts to attract, retain and grow companies by helping them analyze and lower their energy costs through a variety of programs.
We also continue to develop new offerings to help businesses grow or maintain jobs in California, such as our Economic Development Rate for eligible customers with high energy loads who are considering locating in California, relocating from California to other states or closing their existing California operations. Eligible companies can receive a 12 percent rate reduction for five years, and companies in cities and counties where the annual unemployment rate is at least 25 percent higher than the state average can receive a 30 percent rate reduction for five years.
To help keep customer energy bills affordable, we continue to adopt more efficient work methods and technologies. This includes streamlining procedures and processes, allowing leaders to more effectively implement strategies to serve our customers. One example is the advanced automation technology installed on power lines throughout our service area that can “self-heal” the power grid by rerouting the flow of electricity around a damaged power line and effectively restore power to the majority of impacted customers within minutes. This allows PG&E field crews to be deployed more efficiently.
In 2015, we continued to aid customers in need through our financial assistance programs:
- CARE: Over 1.4 million customers, or 87 percent of those who were eligible, received discounts through the CARE program in 2015. Since the program’s inception in 1989, PG&E CARE customers have saved $7.5 billion on their energy bills.
- REACH: PG&E provided over $1.7 million to help more than 6,300 customers through the REACH program in 2015.
- Balanced Payment Plans: Approximately 239,000 customers took advantage of various balanced payment plan options in 2015, which helped even out the highs and lows of monthly bills.
We also continued to contribute to local economic and community vitality:
- We invested in our communities through our Economic Vitality Grant Program, which supports local workforce development and business incubation. In 2015, we awarded 10 grants totaling $200,000 to help organizations such as Northern Rural Communities Development Inc. to support its Grow Manufacturing initiative and expand the California North State manufacturing sector.
- We partnered locally for economic development with the Governor’s Office and the California Association of Local Economic Development—hosting four economic development workshops in local communities, among other actions.
- We helped attract or retain key local businesses—working with 51 businesses that were looking to locate or expand in our service area, when they had out-of-state options. Of these, PG&E was successful in attracting 16 companies within our service area with an associated 3,600 jobs.
We also continued to enable and support energy savings through a suite of energy efficiency options, different rate plans, demand response options and engagement campaigns to help customers save energy and money.
PG&E’s Energy Savings Assistance Program, an income-qualified program, helps reduce energy use and better manage costs through a variety of energy education and energy efficiency measures, including home weatherization to reduce air flow in and out of the home and help customers reduce water use.
|2016 Footnote *||100,000|
- *Projected Return to table
Average PG&E residential bills for gas and electric service are among the lowest in the nation, according to figures compiled by leading trade associations.
PG&E’s residential electric customers paid less than the average of nearly every region in the country in 2014, the most recent year for which comparative data are available. Their average bill of $85.20 per month was 19 percent less than the national average of $105.17.
The average PG&E residential gas customer paid $38.95 per month, which was 40 percent less than the national average of $65.33.
|East North Central||$93.09|
|West North Central||$100.19|
|West South Central||$126.07|
|East South Central||$132.54|
- Source: Edison Electric Institute
|West South Central||$50.92|
|East South Central||$60.58|
|West North Central||$74.33|
|East North Central||$84.17|
- Source: American Gas Association
PG&E, community leaders support Kiva Oakland to help small businesses
PG&E partnered with the city of Oakland, community leaders and Kiva.org to launch Kiva Oakland, a new program that helps fund small businesses, create jobs and support Oakland’s economy and future for the next generation. Kiva is a nonprofit organization that connects small businesses with a global community to crowdfund loans in order to alleviate poverty and expand economic opportunity. Kiva’s micro-lending program leverages the funding power of an online network to invest in local small businesses that are often denied loans through traditional banks. These micro-loans can help small business owners start and grow their businesses.
The way Californians are being charged for energy is changing. PG&E has been working with regulators, state officials and other stakeholders to more closely align the price customers pay for energy with the actual cost of providing that energy and to encourage residential customers to shift usage to times of day that support a cleaner, more reliable grid.
This effort is part of a multiyear path toward simplifying the rate structure. In 2016, we put into place a number of residential rate changes that affect the way our customers pay for energy, including moving from a four to three tier rate structure and balancing the tiers by adjusting the price of each tier. Other steps included establishing two new time-of-use rate options for customers.