Energy Affordability

$43
million+
Amount in rebates customers earned for conserving natural gas through the Winter Gas Savings program

PG&E’s average residential bills are well below the national average. However, in many of the cities and towns we serve, difficult economic conditions continue to be an everyday reality, as customers in these communities struggle to find employment and make ends meet. That’s why, as we make investments to deliver the service customers expect, we understand that it is critically important to keep customer energy bills affordable and help customers in need.

Our Approach

We are working in a variety of ways to ensure that the gas and electricity we deliver to nearly 16 million people is not only safe and reliable, but also affordable. This includes an ongoing focus on achieving efficiencies in our operations, offering ways for customers to save money by saving energy, and working with customers who are facing financial challenges.

Saving Money through Energy Efficiency

Offering a full range of energy efficiency programs is one of the key elements of PG&E’s overall commitment to affordability. Our website includes an extensive set of energy-saving tips and lists of appliances and equipment that are eligible for rebates. It also provides tools like Home Energy Reports that help customers analyze their usage and pinpoint ways to save. The interactive Home Money Saver walks customers through ways to cut down energy use at home—from changing out inefficient light bulbs to upgrades for the entire home.

PG&E also provides customers with rate plan choices to help lower their bills. Residential pricing options made possible by SmartMeter™ technology are helping customers better control and reduce energy costs. The SmartRate™ Summer Pricing Plan enables customers to save money by conserving power during as many as 15 SmartDays™ each summer, when energy may be in short supply. 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

Whatever the circumstances, PG&E works to continue providing electricity and natural gas to customers facing financial challenges. Programs designed for those in need include:

  • California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), which offers a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualified households receive a discount that currently averages about 44 percent.
  • Energy Savings Assistance Program, which provides income-qualified renters and homeowners with free energy education, weatherization measures and energy-efficient appliances to reduce gas and electric usage.
  • Balanced Payment Plans, which spread costs out evenly over the year and eliminate swings in customers’ monthly energy bills from seasonal changes in usage.

Additionally, for more than 25 years, Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) has provided emergency energy assistance of up to $200 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.

2013 Milestones

Providing safe, reliable and affordable service remains our focus every day, and we continue to take steps to keep customer energy bills affordable. Among other highlights, PG&E has:

  • Worked to continuously adopt more efficient technology and work methods. Recent examples include initiatives to lower sourcing costs through alliance partnerships, reduce maintenance costs by installing electrical equipment specially adapted to local climate zones and streamline reading of older analog meters by making routes more efficient.
  • Continued to support residential rate reform. We support reform of residential electric rate structures and advocate for a simpler system of rates, in keeping with Assembly Bill (AB) 327, a state law passed in 2013. AB 327 authorizes the CPUC to narrow the discrepancies between rates paid by lower-use and higher-use customers. This reform will bring rates more closely into line with the actual cost of service.
  • Enabled winter gas savings. Nearly two million customers earned more than $43 million in rebates through PG&E’s Winter Gas Savings program for conserving natural gas. Customers who reduced gas usage in December and January automatically received a credit of up to 20 percent on their bills for these months. More than 1.9 million customers, or half of all who were eligible, earned bill credits by reducing their gas usage. Total credits exceeded those paid in 2012 by almost $2 million.
  • Redesigned our monthly energy statement. The new energy statement more clearly displays energy usage and costs, helping customers better understand the link between their energy use and billed amount.

We also continue to aid customers in need through a variety of financial assistance programs:

  • CARE: Nearly 1.4 million customers, or 88 percent of those who were eligible, received discounts through the CARE program in 2013. We partnered with more than 70 community organizations to enroll customers throughout our service area. Since the program’s inception in 1989, PG&E CARE customers have saved $6.4 billion on their energy bills.
  • REACH: PG&E provided $1.1 million to help more than 5,700 customers through the REACH program in 2013.
  • Balanced Payment Plans: Approximately 250,000 customers took advantage of various balanced payment plan options in 2013, which helped even out the highs and lows of monthly bills.

Measuring Progress

PG&E’s energy efficiency programs save customers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. For example, through the Energy Savings Assistance Program, certified contractors provide income-qualified renters and homeowners with home improvement services such as installing compact fluorescent lights, weather stripping and low-flow showerheads, as well as making other minor home repairs and conducting home safety inspections. In 2013, we upgraded 123,566 homes, a 7 percent increase over 2012.

Weatherized Homes Through Energy Savings Assistance Program

* Projected

Benchmarking Average Residential Bills

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 for any region in the country in 2012, the most recent year for which comparative data are available. Their average bill of $88.82 per month was 17 percent less than the national average of $106.38.

Average Electric Bills (2012)

Source: Edison Electric Institute

The average PG&E residential gas customer paid $38.29 per month, or just over a dollar a day, which was 27 percent less than the national average of $52.33.

Average Natural Gas Bills (2012)

Source: American Gas Association

Several factors contribute to low average bills, including our region’s relatively temperate climate, which limits the need for winter heating and summer cooling; robust energy-efficiency programs, which save customers money; and slower growth in PG&E’s gas and electric rates relative to inflation since the start of the last decade. Decisions by the CPUC are expected to increase PG&E gas and electric rates in the next several years, but typical residential bills are expected to remain well below national averages.

Looking Ahead

As we look ahead, PG&E is focused on keeping energy affordable for all our customers. We will continue to work proactively with regulators, state officials and other stakeholders to make our rates as fair and equitable as possible.

Energy efficiency measures also will remain at the heart of our efforts to help customers save money on their bills. For example, in 2014, PG&E has set a target to weatherize more than 122,000 homes through our Energy Savings Assistance Program. We will also work to increase CARE program enrollment to more than 1.4 million customers.

In 2014, PG&E has set a target to weatherize more than 122,000 homes through our Energy Savings Assistance Program.

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