sce new tou rates

Which SCE rate schedule is best for solar? Understanding peak hours

Southern California Edison’s (SCE) new time-of-use (TOU) rate plans went into effect in March 2019, affecting the utility’s entire coverage area. 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, SCE customers have the option of switching over to TOU or remaining on their standard, existing rate schedule. However, TOU rates will eventually be the default for all residential customers of SCE. When it comes to choosing your TOU plan, the most favorable option depends on how much electricity you use and when you use it.

An overview of TOU rates

Today, most residential SCE customers are on a tiered rate plan. This means your per kilowatt hour (kWh) electricity rate is determined by how much electricity you use in a given month. When you use more electricity than the baseline allocation, you move up tier levels and have to pay a higher rate per kWh for that excess electricity. TOU rate plans are different: your per-kWh rate changes based on your total monthly electricity use and the time of day you use it.

There are specific times during the day when electricity is more expensive to generate – these are known as “peak” hours. When you draw electricity from the grid during peak hours, SCE charges you more for it. Alternatively, you can experience lower electricity rates if you consume energy during the specified “off-peak” hours.





Don



What are the new SCE TOU rate plans?

Historically, SCE had six different TOU plans for their residential customers, allowing for flexibility in choosing your rate structure. This changed in 2019 when SCE implemented their new TOU rate plans, limiting the number of available TOU plans down to two primary offerings, plus one exclusively available to homeowners who have an electric vehicle. While some of the older TOU plans included peak hours that began as early as noon, the updated offers shift all peak hours past 4 PM. This means new solar customers will be generating most of their solar electricity in off-peak hours for a lower rate than what the alternative TOU rate plans allowed.

When will SCE implement new TOU rates?

The new TOU rate plans went into effect starting on March 1, 2019. If you’re a residential SCE customer without solar panels, you can opt into a TOU plan or remain on the standard, tiered electricity schedule. Alternatively, if you already have solar and were enrolled in an existing TOU plan, you’re grandfathered into that legacy plan for the time being. However, starting in October 2020, TOU rate plans will be the default for all residential customers of SCE, regardless of whether or not you have a solar panel system on your property. At this time, any existing solar customers in grandfathered TOU plans will need to opt into one of the current offerings.

Why are SCE’s TOU rates so high?

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 than fixed, per-kWh rates depict. During peak hours, electricity demand is high and thus more expensive for utilities to generate and deliver. Alternatively, during off-peak hours, demand for electricity is lower in your utility zone and therefore more affordable for SCE and, consequently, you as the end customer. TOU rates help encourage people to shift their electricity use away from costly peak hours.

There are a few steps you can take to reduce your bills when you’re on a TOU rate plan. SCE’s new rate schedules are still tiered and have peak hours from either 4-9 p.m. or 5-8 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 money by moving some of your electricity use to off-peak hours. Many electrical appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, or dryers have scheduling functionality or “delayed start” features so that you can set them to run during off-peak hours ahead of time.

Select the right SCE rate plan based on peak hours

There are two primary TOU plans that SCE customers can choose from. The primary difference between each plan is where the peak hours fall: the TOU-D-4-9PM plan has peak hours from 4 to 9 p.m., while the TOU-D-5-8PM plan has peak hours from 5 to 8 p.m. Both of these plans have higher peak rates during the summer (June through September) than in the winter (October through May). You can find the most current prices for both plans on the SCE website. SCE also offers a rate plan comparison tool that will give you personalized evaluations of one TOU rate plan versus another based on your actual electric usage history.

TOU-D-4-9PM summer and winter pricing

TOU 4 to 9 summer rates

TOU 4 to 9 winter rates

TOU-D-5-8PM summer and winter pricing

TOU 5 to 8 summer rates

TOU 5 to 8 winter rates

TOU-D-PRIME for SCE customers with electric vehicles

TOU prime summer rates

TOU prime winter rates

If you have an electric vehicle, you can opt into the TOU-D-PRIME rates that offer a lower rate overnight. These TOU rates have a higher daily fixed charge compared to the other two options, but lower off-peak charges that will reduce the cost of charging your electric car during nighttime hours.

How do new SCE TOU rate changes affect your solar panel system?

Prior to the implementation of TOU rates, many solar installers in SCE territory would install a solar panel system that could offset enough of your electricity usage to remain in the lowest tier of electricity rates. However, the new rate schedules may change how you approach your solar savings.

When your solar panels produce excess electricity during the day, it’s sent back to the gird in exchange for net metering credits. Under SCE’s new TOU rate plans, most viable sun hours are during off-peak periods, meaning you’ll receive lower compensation for the kWh than if they were generated during peak hours. Your solar panels may not produce enough electricity to cover your usage during peak hours, resulting in a higher electricity bill.

TOU rates are one of the primary reasons many homeowners choose to install 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 when your solar panels aren’t producing electricity, you can draw from the battery instead of having to pay a higher rate to your utility.

California also has an incentive for storage, known as the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), that helps lower the costs of energy storage in the state. This program provides rebates to homeowners who install a battery with their solar panel system. However, if you aren’t ready to install a battery, your solar company can install a solar PV system for you now that will be ready for a battery addition at a later date.

Choosing the right SCE rate schedule is just one way to maximize your solar savings

Installing solar panels on your property is the best way to protect yourself from variable electricity prices, regardless of whether you’re on a TOU rate plan or not. You can compare multiple quotes from local, prescreened installers by joining the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. Upon registering, you’ll have the opportunity to upload your SCE electric bill so that installers can quote and design a solar panel system best suited for your needs.





Don



3 thoughts on “Which SCE rate schedule is best for solar? Understanding peak hours

  1. Ablison

    The rate comparison tool redirects me. How do I get current prices?

    The new TOU basically makes it necessary to always have a battery installed with solar panels.

  2. Elias

    These plans are theft. Where does this extra revenue go? It punishes people and children who work or go to school regular hours ie. 9-5. It also keeps saying that it is cheaper at some hours to offset the hike but it is only cheaper by about 3-4 cents while during peak hours it doubles. How am I expected not to use electricity from 4-9 or 5-8 when that’s the only time I am awake at home!? I will be spreading awareness and contacting the proper departments of our government to remove these thieving policies.

  3. Steven

    My family has energy efficient devices, low power lights, turn off the lights when not being used, and basically pretty good at saving energy. We used to have the “Tiered” plan and always stayed within the first two tiers. Our electric bills in Oct was average of $85 dollars for (2017, and 2018). We decided to get solar because we thought, ‘hey we live in California and have sun 360 days out of the year’; getting solar would reduce our bill to almost nothing for most of the year. While we were at work, only the refrigerator and a garage freezer are the main energy users. The solar panels would exceed that usage easily. Then when we came home, the offset during the day would pay for the 4 PM to 9 PM usage such as televisions, lights, etc. Well after spending approximately $10,000 on a solar system we just got our bill for Oct. It was $45 dollars! SCE has switched us over to the now required time-of-use TOU rated billing system. Ok, most people might say, ‘why are you complaining about a $45 dollar bill, that is small’, but after spending 10k on a nice solar system, I would expect the bill to be basically zero (just a few fees, UUT etc). BUT that is not the case/ During the day the rates SCE charges to pull from the grid are not the same as the rate you get when you provide the grid (drastically different). After analysing the bill, and without being long winded, this basically means the solar system saves me about $40 bucks a month for most of the year. Even if I doubled the number of panels, the rate is so low during 8 AM to 4 PM it would save maybe another $40 dollars. Although it may have made sense to purchase a solar system in the past, the TOU rated system makes spending the $10,000 on panels a worthless investment. I am confident, we will NOT want to spend another $6,000 to $8,000 on a battery bank. I am with the above poster ‘Elias’ – spread the word to make people aware and hopefully change the system. Electric companies should pay people who have invested into a solar system providing power to the grid the same rate they are charging customers taking from the grid at the same time-of-day. This would at least offset the 4 PM to 9 PM higher rates. A flat rate would be the best method, you pay for what you use, but obviously the argument against that is brown outs or worse (instead of adding more power plants). The time-of-day rates allows power companies to charge high rates during the summer when the weather is hot; lower rates during the winter days and higher again after work hours when everyone is at home. What a scam…

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