SAN FRANCISCO, June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced today that that it has begun a comprehensive effort to educate its small and medium business and agriculture customers about a state-mandated pricing program change for electric services and how they can potentially take advantage of it to save money. At the same time, the utility is asking state regulators to give affected customers the right to opt-out of the new pricing program if they prefer to stay with their current plan.
At the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission, small and medium businesses will begin moving in November to time-of-use (TOU) pricing. With TOU, when electricity is used will be just as important as how much electricity is used. Rates are higher during weekday summer afternoons when electric demand peaks, typically noon to 6 p.m., May through October. In return, business customers will have lower rates at all other times.
The purpose is to better align prices with the cost of generating electricity at various times of the day, to help lower energy bills, prevent "brownouts" and other electric grid disruptions, and benefit the environment by reducing the need to run fossil-fueled power plants.
"Through an extensive program of customer letters, person-to-person outreach, local and community events, web-based seminars and targeted online advertising, PG&E is reaching out to help our business customers understand this significant change so they can better manage their energy usage and potentially save money," said Helen Burt, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at PG&E. "We offer a wide range of tools and energy management solutions to help customers conserve energy during peak periods and lower their bills. Early and frequent education will help customers make the transition as smoothly as possible."
Burt added, "Although time-of-use pricing is an important element of the state's energy policy, we know that our customers appreciate having options, so we hope that state regulators will approve our proposal to let customers opt-out of the program and stick with existing flat-rate prices if they desire."
PG&E has asked the Commission to expedite its review of this opt-out proposal and issue a decision by Sept. 1, 2012, before small and medium business customers begin transitioning to the new TOU rates in November. Large commercial and industrial electric customers have already moved to similar pricing plans.
Businesses that do not draw heavy power loads during peak afternoon hours may automatically benefit from the change to TOU rates, and others may save money by taking simple steps to reduce peak energy use, such as pre-cooling work areas and charging batteries in the morning, adjusting employee schedules, and turning off some non-essential power draws in the afternoon, such as fountains and video displays.
An analysis by PG&E suggests that as many as six in 10 small and medium business customers would benefit or see no change from a shift to TOU pricing, even if they do not change their behavior. Only about two percent of such customers would experience a bill increase of more than $8 a month.
Business customers can learn more about TOU rates by visiting PG&E's web pages at www.pge.com/TVP or by calling a PG&E representative at 1-800-987-4923. PG&E offers a host of energy-saving tips and programs at http://www.pge.com/mybusiness/energysavingsrebates/.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/ and www.pgecurrents.com.
SOURCE Pacific Gas and Electric Company