PG&E rate schedule increase and solar

Which PG&E rate schedule is best for solar? Understanding peak hours

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PG&E’s new rate schedule affects utility’s entire coverage area in 2020. Whether you have solar panels on your roof, are considering solar, or don’t have any plans to generate your own electricity, the time-of-use (TOU) rates will have an impact on your monthly electricity costs. Currently, all PG&E customers have the option of switching to TOU rates or remaining on their existing rate schedule. However, if you are a new PG&E customer or move to a new address, you’ll have to choose a new TOU plan. The best option for your home depends on your electricity use habits.


PG&E rate increases: everything you need to know

Currently, most residential PG&E customers are on a tiered rate plan, which means that your per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) electricity rate is determined by the total amount of electricity you use each month. The new PG&E rate schedule introduces an additional factor: time of use (TOU) rates. With the new schedules, your per-kWh rate will change based on your total monthly electricity use and the time of day.

Electricity is significantly more expensive to generate during times of high or “peak” demand, such as the morning or early evening. TOU rates are split into two categories: “peak” and “off-peak” hours. During peak hours, the per-kWh rate will be significantly higher than in off-peak hours. As a result, while TOU rates will result in some PG&E rate increases, you could also see a rate decrease during off-peak hours. Off-peak prices are typically 10 to 30 percent lower than peak prices.

Utilities don’t use TOU rates to make more money off of their customers. Rather, TOU rates more accurately reflect how electricity prices vary throughout the day. When you pay a flat per-kWh rate regardless of the time of day, you probably don’t realize that your electricity costs more to generate and deliver when demand is high. TOU rates reflect these differences to encourage you to shift your electricity use away from costly peak hours.

There are a few things you can do to reduce your bills if you are worried about a rate increase. PG&E’s new rate schedules are still tiered and have peak hours from either 3-8 p.m. or 4-9 p.m. You can choose energy-efficient appliances and lighting to reduce your total monthly electricity use and remain in the least expensive “tier.” You can also save a significant amount of money by moving some of your electricity use to off-peak hours. For example, if you don’t run your dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer during peak hours, you’ll cut the cost of using those appliances in half. Additionally, smart home devices like smart thermostats can help manage your heating and/or air conditioning costs throughout the day. 

Select the right PG&E rate plan based on peak hours

There are a few different TOU plans that PG&E customers can choose from depending on their electricity use patterns. The primary difference between each plan is where the peak hours fall: the ETOU-A plan has peak hours from 3 to 8 p.m., while the ETOU-B plan has peak hours from 4 to 9 p.m. The ETOU-A plan also has a “baseline allowance” that makes it more economical for customers who have relatively low monthly electricity use. Both of these plans have higher overall rates during the summer (May through October) than in the winter (November through April). You can find the most current prices for both plans on the PG&E website.

ETOU-A summer and winter pricing

PG&E TOU schedule summer
PG&E TOU schedule winter

ETOU-B summer and winter pricing

PG&E TOU-B schedule summer
PG&E TOU pricing B winter

If you have an electric vehicle, there are also special TOU rates that offer a lower rate overnight. These TOU rates will significantly reduce the cost of charging your electric car so long as it’s during nighttime hours.

TOU rates for PG&E customers with electric vehicles

PG&E EV TOU pricing

PG&E offers a “rate analysis” tool that helps you estimate your cost for each rate plan option. The tool uses your actual monthly electricity use to project your new monthly costs with different rate schedules.

How do new PG&E time of use and rate increases affect your solar panels?

Prior to the implementation of TOU rates, many solar installers in PG&E’s territory would install a solar panel system that could offset some, but not all, of your electricity use to help homeowners stay in the lowest tier of electricity rates. However, the new rate schedules change how you should approach your solar savings. If your solar panels aren’t producing enough electricity to cover your electricity use during peak hours, you’ll still pay a significant electricity bill each month.

TOU rates are also one of the primary reasons many homeowners are thinking about installing a battery with their solar panels. With a solar battery, you can store your excess solar electricity production at home instead of sending it back to the grid. Then, during peak hours, you can draw from the battery instead of having to pay a higher rate to your utility.

California recently overhauled its Self-Generation Incentive Program, which means that there are significant rebates available in for homeowners who want to install a solar battery with their PV system. That being said, home batteries for solar are still a relatively new technology. If you aren’t ready to be an early adopter you may want to wait a year or two before installing one. Your solar company can install a solar PV system for you now that will be ready for a battery whenever you decide you need one.

Choosing the right PG&E rate schedule is just one way to maximize your solar savings

If you are concerned about reducing your electricity costs during PG&E rate increases, choosing a rate schedule is only the first step. Generating your own emissions-free solar electricity at home is one of the best ways to insulate yourself from rising electricity prices, no matter where you are. To be sure you’re getting the best price on your system – and maximizing your 20-year savings – you should always compare multiple offers from different solar companies. Get started by joining the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, where you can review quotes from qualified local installers.


21 thoughts on “Which PG&E rate schedule is best for solar? Understanding peak hours

  1. Michael Dodd

    We are in the process of purchasing a home with solar. We specifically have only been shopping for homes with solar installed prior to 2016 so it has the NEM 1.0 grandfathering into the 2030s. We wanted this because we want Tiered rate access. We would also settle for TOU-D which has Time of Use from noon until 5pm but those have all been eliminated. We will be signing up for the first time with SCE and based on this article it seems they are going to force us into a TOU which goes against NEM 1.0 and thus devaules what this house is actually worth. Can someone clarify how this impacts NEM 1.0 new customers?

    Reply
  2. Joel M Miller

    PG&E says that Net Energy Metering has my electric meter running forward when I draw energy from the grid, and backward when I send energy to the grid. But where do I get credit under my TOU rate schedule, for using my solar-storage system to draw energy when costs are low, and provide it when its value is high? It seems to me that Net Energy Value (kWh x $/kWh) must be metered and netted, not Net Energy (kWh)!

    Also, if, at “true-up”, I’ve provided more Energy, or more Energy Value, to the grid than I used, do I get a payment from PG&E?

    Sunrun.com says: If net metering is available within your utility, you can increase your utility bill savings with a solar battery. The battery can discharge to the grid during peak demand hours, selling your stored electricity at a higher rate.

    Reply
  3. Marc

    In response to Robert`s comment: No, that’s not how it works. Electricity produced by solar panels and inverter(s) is fed to the customer’s side of the meter and is used by your home appliances first. If you generate more electricity than you use, the excess goes thru the meter and to the grid ( ie, you neighbors). PG&E Time of use rates determine how much credit you get for the power exported to the grid. However, PG&E has no control over the electricity that a homeowner consumes directly from solar.

    Reply
    1. Gilbert Morales

      Trust but verify, if the user doesn’t have a meter that measure his usage he is dependent on the foxes to guard the hen house. Those that lease the equipment should be required to install a usage meter so the user can monitor and adjust their usage.PG&E and their website is so onerous to the laymen that might as well be a hustlers shell game. I was surprise when PG&E was unable to tell me what was my total usage. The user has no way of checking the solar company or PG&E. I have 18 panels but PG&E still can subject me to time of use rate.

      Reply
  4. Robert

    Just by looking at the circuitry, there is no such thing of you feed the grid if you have excess power from the solar panels after feeding your house. It looks to me that all solar power is fed to the grid first and we are still using the old PG&E power at all time. It is only the calculation of net power that is power produced minus power consumed. Simply said, your solar power does not power your house directly, it is always sent to PG&E first. Proof: PG&E can shut down your power at any time. So if your solar is really feeding your house directly, that cannot happen.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Nguyen

      I think your right. I have a Panasonic EverVolt Battery and the readings on that show grid export and solar production to be basically the same when show on the line graph. Grid export is always a little lower due to power loss during conversion and transfer.

      Reply

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