Your PG&E Bill May be Increasing Dramatically! – How to Get Involved

February 24, 2017

Most Californians will soon see a change in the way they are billed for electricity: the center for accessible technology wants to hear from you about what this will mean

What is changing about my electricity rates?

Right now, most households pay for electricity with tiered rates.  When you use electricity, the initial rate each month is the lowest rate available.  If your usage goes above a set level, the amount you pay for the additional usage is higher than the initial rate.  People who use the most electricity pay the highest rate, while people who limit their usage can stay within the lowest “tier.”

Over the next few years, the major utilities in California will be switching most customers from the tiered structure to a “time of use” or TOU rate structure, where rates are higher during the time of day where there is the most demand on the electric grid (likely to be late afternoon and through the evening) and lower during other times of day.

Why is my rate structure changing?

There are many factors involved in the decision (made by the California Public Utilities Commission) to change most customers to a TOU rate structure, most of which relate to the state’s energy and climate goals.

  • Higher rates at times of high demand are intended to encourage customers to shift their usage to other times of day, which will help manage the flow of energy through the power grid.
  • Lower rates at times of day when solar power is abundant are intended to support California’s commitment to clean energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

What does this mean for me?

While the purpose of the change to TOU rates is to support important energy and climate goals, it may create problems for many customers who cannot easily shift their energy usage.  This is a particular concern for customers who live in hot climate zones, including the Central Valley and the desert areas of California.

Most customers will see their summer bills go up with a change to TOU rates.  A substantial number, but by no means all (or even most) will see that offset by lower bills in the winter.  If a customer can shift their energy usage to lower-cost times, they can offset any increases, or even see bill decreases.  But a customer who is unable to shift their usage may see a substantial overall increase in their annual cost of energy.  Customers who use a lot of electricity are most likely to see their bills go down, while those who use less energy are more likely to see their bills go up.

Do you want to find out more about these changes? And what can you do?

The Center for Accessible Technology is conducting short (20 minute) telephone interviews and is inviting customers to complete a survey about household energy use.  These tools will allow us to collect information and potential concerns from customers about the upcoming changes to their rate structure. We can also provide information on how to “opt out” of the change if you prefer.  By providing your story about your electricity usage and how any change in rate structure may affect your quality of life, you will help us submit important information to the California Public Utilities Commission, which is considering whether to exempt groups of customers from the change. It WILL make a difference.


If you are interested in being interviewed, please email Kate Woodford at, or call 510-841-3224 x 2017 to schedule a telephone interview. Evening and weekend interviews are available. We look forward to speaking with you and hearing your important story.

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