Economic Vitality

Focusing on Our Customers


Number of homes weatherized through the Energy Savings Assistance Program, which assists income-qualified renters and homeowners

PG&E has the privilege of serving 15 million Californians—homes and businesses that encompass a diverse array of customers and communities. Many of these communities have been hard hit by the economic downturn, and customers in these areas continue to face high unemployment and other economic challenges. In light of these challenges, it is critical that we work to keep customer energy bills affordable and help customers in need. It is also important that we work with economic development organizations and others to help create, attract and retain businesses within our service area.

Increasing Assistance to Businesses

For the last several decades, PG&E has partnered with local, regional and statewide economic development organizations focused on improving the state’s economic climate for businesses. In 2012, PG&E provided vital financial support to nearly 50 of these organizations and often served in leadership roles through boards, local economic forums and training.

PG&E’s dedicated economic development team also provides one-on-one assistance to current and future customers considering competitive location alternatives and works to enhance PG&E’s economic development services. The team directly supports local efforts to attract or retain companies by conducting rate analyses, presenting PG&E’s extensive energy management programs and coordinating site visits for prospective customers and economic development organizations.

For example, PG&E helped an international food manufacturer site a new facility in our service area. In the early stages, PG&E helped the company analyze rates, utility infrastructure costs, timing to set up utility infrastructure and available energy efficiency construction incentives. Once the customer decided on a location, PG&E coordinated with city planning representatives, the local fire chief and the customer to ensure safety requirements were met in completing the project. The project brought 100 jobs to the area with future plans to expand and add 200 jobs by the end of 2015.

In total, PG&E worked with nine new and existing businesses in 2012 that were looking to locate or expand operations within Northern and Central California, with the potential to create more than 1,400 new jobs throughout the region.

Recognizing that our support for statewide economic development activities is more critical than ever, we have asked state regulators for increased funding that would allow us to expand staff support for business attraction, expansion and retention including:

  • Additional field employees.
  • Greater assistance for economic development organizations.
  • Enhanced support for local and regional professional training, forums, strategic planning and program development and evaluation.
  • Training for additional PG&E field personnel to conduct economic development project service activities for customers and local economic development organizations.

In light of continued economic challenges, in 2012, we also asked state regulators for permission to offer a new electric rate aimed at helping attract and retain jobs in California. If approved, the rate will apply to PG&E customers with power loads of at least 200 kilowatts who are looking to locate, expand or remain in our service area, but who also have a viable out-of-state option. More than 30 cities and counties and additional non-government entities have expressed support for the proposed rate option.

The proposal would provide a 12 percent rate reduction for five years for companies that attest that it is needed to enable them to site new operations, expand existing facilities or stay in California. An enhanced option, with a reduction of 35 percent, would apply in counties with unemployment rates that are at least 25 percent above the state average. The new rate would replace an expired program that PG&E began offering in 2005.

Helping Customers in Need

As we make investments to deliver the service our customers expect, we understand that it is critically important to keep customer energy bills affordable. With this in mind, PG&E offers many ways for customers to save money by saving energy, including extensive energy efficiency assistance, online tools to analyze energy use and rebates for energy-efficient products.

We are also working to assist customers when there are challenges or unexpected changes in their financial situation. Programs that provide this assistance include:

  • California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), which offers a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. In 2012, nearly 375,000 new customers enrolled in the CARE program. In total, nearly 1.5 million customers participate, or 90 percent of those who are eligible, meeting the CPUC’s enrollment goal. Qualified households may receive an average annual discount of $565. Since the program’s inception in 1989, PG&E CARE customers have saved $5.7 million on their energy bills.
  • 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. Through the program, certified contractors make home improvements such as installing compact fluorescent lights, providing weather stripping, installing low-flow showerheads and performing other minor home repairs, concluding with a home safety inspection. In 2012, we upgraded 115,229 homes.
  • Balanced Payment Plans, which provide an optional bill payment plan that spreads costs out evenly over the year and eliminates swings in customers’ monthly energy bills, such as when seasonal changes occur.

Additionally, 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 periods.

We also once again offered a Winter Gas Savings Program, rewarding residential and commercial customers who reduced natural gas consumption during the winter (compared to their past usage). Those who did received a credit on their gas bills after the program period. More than 100,000 customers logged on to use PG&E’s Facebook-enabled Winter Gas Savings Progress Tracker application that draws on SmartMeter™ technology and allows them to follow their progress toward earning a rebate online and adjust their behavior accordingly. In 2013, nearly 2 million customers received credits totaling more than $43 million.

Additionally, for more than 25 years, the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) Program has provided emergency energy assistance to low-income families within PG&E’s service area. This one-time energy assistance program, funded with charitable dollars from PG&E’s shareholders, is administered by The Salvation Army. The program provides assistance of up to $200 to customers experiencing a crisis that prevents them from paying their gas or electric bill. Together, PG&E and its customers provided $5.1 million to help more than 15,000 customers through the REACH and REACH Plus programs in 2012.

Weatherized Homes Through Energy Savings Assistance Program

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