Small business owners and local residents attended a special workshop hosted by the Alpine Chamber of Commerce on Tues., May 7 at the Alpine Library. Representatives from San Diego Gas & Electric were on hand to explain new pricing plans available to customers. These new pricing plans reflect state-mandated changes intended to shift towards clean energy use.
"These plans are designed to give customers more choices and control over their energy bills. TOU plans offer customers two ways to save: by shifting electricity use to lower cost hours of the day, before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m., and/or by reducing overall usage," says SDG&E.
The reality is that many small businesses may be overpaying for energy costs. It is important to understand how SDG&E's changes will affect your bottom line.
As part of a California Public Utilities Commission initiative to support the state’s continuing shift to clean energy, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) will begin to transition their residential customers to new Time-of-Use (TOU) pricing plans starting in March. Approximately 750,000 customers – roughly 75,000-100,000 per month – will be moved to TOU plans by mid-2020. These plans are designed to give customers more choices and control over their energy bills. TOU plans offer customers two ways to save: by shifting electricity use to lower cost hours of the day, before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m., and/or by reducing overall usage. TOU plans are designed to encourage a cleaner power grid by using energy when renewable resources, like solar power, are readily available. SDG&E began communicating with the first ~100,000 customers three months prior to them transitioning to their new plan. Direct mail and emails were distributed to the customers notifying them of the transition and included tips and other information about their new plan. Throughout the year, as more customers are transitioned, SDG&E will continue to distribute direct mail and email notifications, and information via multiple communications channels, including social media, TV, radio, and print.
“The transition to Time-of-Use plans marks a big milestone in California’s journey toward a clean energy future,” said SDG&E vice president of customer services Scott Crider. “We are committed to helping our customers through this transition.” Small shifts in electricity use can make a big difference. By running the dishwasher or doing laundry during off-peak hours, customers can benefit from lower prices when enrolled in a TOU plan. Customers who use high amounts of energy due to air conditioners, pool pumps and other devices can lower their monthly bills if they are able to shift the operation of those devices outside of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. More tips can be found at sdge.com/whenmatters. Existing customers who are transitioning can try a new TOU plan risk-free for up to one year. If they end up spending more on energy than when they were on their original plan, they will receive a bill credit for the difference. They can track their progress during the year with a price comparison chart that will appear on their monthly bill. The risk-free period does not apply to new customers or customers who have recently connected a solar system. While SDG&E will begin transitioning customers in March, the company has offered TOU plans to its residential customers for more than a decade. Currently, approximately 150,000 residential and 80,000 business customers are enrolled in a TOU plan, including TOU plans designed for electric vehicle owners. Customers who transition to a TOU plan can switch back to their original plan at any time. Customers are encouraged to log in to the MyAccount portal on sdge.com to compare their pricing plan options.
The statewide shift to Time-of-Use (TOU) energy pricing plans is underway in our region, and we have been fielding questions from our customers about these new plans. The answers to the most frequently asked questions are available below.
1. Do I have to stay on a Time-of-Use plan or can I stay with my current plan?
Customers have a choice. They can opt out of TOU pricing plans and stay on their original plan. Please note that existing customers who are being transitioned to TOU are automatically provided with a risk-free, one-year guarantee.
Both TOU pricing plans (DR1 and DR2) come with a one year no-risk pricing option, meaning you can try one of these plans RISK-FREE for up to one year. If you end up spending more than you would have on your original plan, we’ll credit you the difference after one year. You don’t have to do anything to track the difference. We will add a section on your bill and track it monthly.
Consistent with direction from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the one-year, risk-free guarantee is for existing customers only because they are transitioning from plans based on overall energy usage to these Time-of-Use plans. Time-of-Use plans are the new standard so new customers who establish service with SDG&E will be placed on these plans going forward.
The risk-free guarantee does not apply to Net Energy Metering (NEM) customers who activated their system (such as solar panels or wind turbines) after June 29, 2016.
2. Are all residential customers transitioning at the same time?
No, customers are being transitioned on a rolling basis.
The first group of approximately 100,000 customers began transitioning in March 2019. By mid-2020, approximately 750,000 customers will be moved to TOU plans.
Prior to each group being transitioned to TOU, customers will receive advance notices via mail and email.
To ensure we can provide the best customer service and make this transition smooth, the transition is phased over the course of one year. We will communicate with our customers throughout the transition.
3. What can I do to shift my usage away from the on-peak period of 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.?
We encourage customers to continue to go about their daily routines but consider making small changes whenever possible, such as shifting usage of large appliances – for example, clothes washer and dryer, dishwasher, pool pump, and electric vehicle charging, outside of 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
4. Why is SDG&E doing this?
The transition of customers to TOU is part of a statewide initiative to support California’s continuing shift to a clean energy future. The CPUC has tasked utilities statewide to shift customers to TOU. SDG&E is the first of the major utilities to make the transition to TOU.
How does shifting use of energy help support a clean energy future?
Every year we are increasing the amount of renewable energy we use to power our homes. And while there is plenty of solar energy available during the day when the sun is out, after the sun sets, this energy source is in short supply to provide power when it’s in high demand.
That’s why you and every other Californian are being encouraged to cut back on your energy use during the hours when energy is in highest demand. Between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., just “Shift and Save.”
5. Will the non-TOU (standard DR) plan be eliminated?
The non-TOU plans remain available for customers who choose to opt out of TOU pricing plans.
6. How will I save on my bill when prices are increasing from 4-9 p.m.?
On a traditional tiered pricing plan, you only have one way to save money on your energy bill and that’s to reduce your overall consumption of energy use.
On new TOU pricing plans, you now have two ways to save money: 1) by shifting electricity use to lower-cost hours of the day (before 4 p.m. or after 9 p.m.), and 2) by reducing overall energy usage.
Check out sdge.com/whenmatters for even more tips on how to save while on TOU