Pacific Gas & Electric has unveiled a new electric time-of-use rate that it says will make energy use more efficient, minimize peak demand challenges and give customers more rate options.
Starting in April, about 150,000 residential PG&E electric customers will move into the new rate, although they have the option to choose another plan, the utility announced Monday. The peak pricing will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day with the off-peak or lowest price in place during the other 19 hours.
“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 Laurie Giammona, senior viice president and chief customer officer, in a statement. “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 time-of-use rate encourages a shift in usage to times when demand is lower and renewable resources such as solar are more plentiful, PG&E said. The utility will offer bill protection for the first 12 months to allow customers to try the new rate plan risk-free.
While customers who take no action will transition into the new time-of-use plan in April, they will have the option of keeping their current plan or choosing an alternate rate plan.
The rate plan is part of a statewide effort in which PG&E and other utilities are working with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). 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.
PG&E plans for a full rollout of the new time-of-use rate plan starting either in late 2019 or late 2020, pending a decision by the CPUC.
California is committed to greater adoption of clean energy resources, but faces the challenges of the so-called “duck curve.” The duck curve illustrates how demand is low but renewables production high during an early part of a typical day when customers are away from home and then reverses in the evening. This creates the potential for over-generation early in the day and inadequate power in the evening.