PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2017

Energy Affordability

At PG&E, we’re focused on keeping our energy service affordable while we modernize and invest in the safety of our electric and gas systems. PG&E’s average residential bill remains below the national average, thanks in part to our energy efficiency programs, which help customers save money by reducing their energy use. We also offer a number of financial assistance programs to help customers who are facing financial challenges.

Our Approach

In January 2017, PG&E announced streamlined management structures and efficiency measures implemented to help keep customer bills affordable while investing in the future. This included reducing support services costs in order to continue to invest in important safety initiatives and in modernizing our system to meet our customers’ future needs while keeping their bills as low as possible.

In addition, we continue to take a multipronged approach to keeping our energy services affordable for customers throughout our service area.

Helping Customers Save through Energy Efficiency

PG&E’s suite of energy efficiency programs plays an essential role in energy 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 Checkup and Home Energy Reports that help customers analyze their usage and pinpoint ways to save.

PG&E also offers customers a number of rate plans to choose from that provide them with opportunities to save while still meeting their energy needs.

  • Time-of-use rates enable customers to save money by providing lower-cost energy during off-peak times of the day, encouraging them to shift energy usage from peak hours to less-expensive periods.
  • The SmartRate™ plan offers a reduced rate during certain months of the year, which enables customers to save money by conserving energy during as many as 15 SmartDays™ each summer, when their rates are higher because demand for electricity is high.

Helping Customers in Need

PG&E works closely with customers facing financial challenges so they can continue to receive gas and electric service. Programs designed for those in need include:

  • The California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE), which offers a monthly discount on energy bills for income-qualified households and housing facilities. Qualified households can save 20 percent or more on their energy bills.
  • Budget Billing, which spreads costs out evenly over the year and eliminates swings in customers’ monthly energy bills caused by seasonal changes in usage.
  • The Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) plan, which pays up to $300 of the energy bill for low-income customers experiencing a crisis that prevents them from paying their gas or electric bill. This assistance program, funded in part with charitable dollars from shareholders, is administered by The Salvation Army.
  • The Family Electric Rate Assistance Program, which provides a monthly discount on electric bills for income-qualified households of three or more people.

In addition, discounts are available for customers that have special energy needs due to certain qualifying medical conditions.

Providing Assistance to Businesses

We actively partner with local, regional and statewide economic development organizations in a variety of ways, from providing funding to nearly 50 organizations to having PG&E employees serve in leadership roles on boards of directors.

PG&E’s economic development team also provides one-on-one assistance to current and future commercial customers who are considering competing locations inside or outside California. The team directly supports local efforts to attract, retain and grow companies by helping them analyze and lower their energy costs through a variety of programs.

We also work to help keep jobs in California and bring new jobs to the state. We offer an Economic Development Rate to businesses with high energy loads who are considering locating in California, relocating from California to other states or closing their existing California operations. Eligible companies can receive a 12 percent rate reduction for five years, and companies in cities and counties where the annual unemployment rate is at least 25 percent higher than the state average can receive a 30 percent rate reduction for five years.

Adopting More Efficient Work Methods and Technologies

To help keep customer energy bills affordable, we continue to increase efficiency in our processes and infrastructure by implementing the latest technologies. One example is the advanced automation technology installed on power lines throughout our service area that can “self-heal” the power grid by rerouting the flow of electricity around a damaged power line, restoring power to the majority of impacted customers within minutes. This allows PG&E field crews to be deployed more efficiently, reduces the costs of repairs, and improves the reliability of the service we provide our customers.

2016 Milestones

In 2016, we continued to aid customers in need through our financial assistance programs:

  • CARE: Over 1.4 million customers, or 88 percent of those who were eligible, received discounts through the CARE program in 2016. Since the program’s inception in 1989, PG&E CARE customers have saved $7.8 billion on their energy bills.
  • REACH: PG&E provided over $1.7 million to help more than 6,200 customers through the 2015-2016 REACH program year (October 2015 through September 2016).
  • Budget Billing: Approximately 225,000 customers took advantage of Budget Billing in 2016, which helped even out the highs and lows of monthly bills.

We also continued to contribute to local economic and community vitality:

  • We partnered locally for economic development with the Governor’s Office and the California Association of Local Economic Development—hosting four economic development workshops in local communities that educated community leaders about what they could do to grow their economies, among other actions.
  • We helped attract out of state companies that were looking to locate and expand in our service area, and retain key local businesses. Since 2014, PG&E has been successful in helping to attract 22 companies to locate within our service area, bringing more than 1,600 jobs to California.

We also continued to enable and support energy savings through a suite of energy efficiency options, different rate plans, demand response options and engagement campaigns to help customers save energy and money.

Measuring Progress

PG&E’s Energy Savings Assistance Program helps low-income customers who are also CARE customers reduce energy use and better manage costs through a variety of energy education and energy efficiency measures, including home weatherization to reduce air flow in and out of the home and guidance to help reduce water use.

Home Weatherproofing Improvement Projects through Energy Savings Assistance Program
2007 63,319
2008 61,034
2009 81,308
2010 133,329
2011 128,071
2012 115,229
2013 123,566
2014 123,539
2015 100,573
2016 74,319 Footnote 1
2017 90,030 Footnote 2
  • 1. In 2016, PG&E’s efforts were impacted by challenges enrolling new, hard-to-reach customers and the timing of regulatory approval for Energy Savings Assistance Program funding.
  • 2. Projected

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 of nearly every region in the country in 2015, the most recent year for which comparative data are available. Their average bill of $88.28 per month was 17 percent less than the national average of $106.26.

The average PG&E residential gas customer paid $35.23 per month, which was 36 percent less than the national average of $55.33.

Average Monthly Electric Bills (2015)
U.S. Average $106.26
PG&E $88.28
Pacific $93.84
East North Central $93.39
Middle Atlantic $96.77
Mountain $96.86
West North Central $98.87
New England $109.05
West South Central $124.23
South Atlantic $127.37
East South Central $130.29
  • Source: Edison Electric Institute
Average Monthly Gas Bills (2015)
U.S. Average $55.33
PG&E $35.23
Pacific $38.83
Mountain $46.50
West South Central $43.75
East South Central $50.25
South Atlantic $56.58
West North Central $57.08
East North Central $63.42
Middle Atlantic $73.67
New England $95.42
  • Source: American Gas Association

Looking Ahead

The way Californians are being charged for energy is changing. PG&E has been working with regulators, state officials and other stakeholders to more closely align the price customers pay for energy with the actual cost of providing that energy and to encourage residential customers to shift usage to times of day that support a cleaner, more reliable grid.

This effort is part of a multiyear path toward simplifying the rate structure. On March 1, 2017, we simplified the structure for PG&E rate plans by reducing the number of rate tiers from three to two. Additionally, to encourage conservation, a surcharge was added for customers who exceed four times the baseline amount of electricity usage. The surcharge, which does not apply to Time-of-Use rates, impacts less than 10 percent of the residential electric customers on the tiered rate plan.

Energy efficiency and other programs will remain at the heart of our efforts to help customers save money on their bills, including our CARE, REACH and Energy Savings Assistance Programs.