The Consumer Advisor Explains PG&E Bill Changes

Dear Consumer Advisor,

I’ve heard that my PG&E bill is changing- for the worse- but I don’t really understand what is going on or why. Can you explain?




Dear Mystified,

You are right that PG&E bills are changing, and will go up for many customers. TURN opposed this change that will mean that conservation-minded customers are likely to pay more.


The change can be seen in the “ELECTRIC USAGE” section of your bill.


Unless you have very high usage, you may not have noticed that your electric bills used to have a “tier three” with charges for this usage set at a much higher rate. Now PG&E will offer residential rates with only three tiers. But the lower tier rates will be higher than before. The majority of customers, those who keep their usage low, are likely to end up paying more.



Tier 1 = $.18/kWh (baseline allowance)

Tier 2 =  $.24/kWh (101-200% of baseline allowance)

Tier 3 = $.40/kWh (201%+ of baseline)



Tier 1 = $.199/kWh (baseline allowance)

Tier 2 = $.27/kWh (101-400% of baseline)

New Tier 3 or “High Usage Surcharge”) about $.40/kWh (401%+ of baseline)


By law, the baseline allowance is set at between 50-60% of average usage in 10 different climate zones within PG&E’s service territory, and summer and winter amounts are different.


Because the baseline structure is tied to actual usage in different geographical areas, customers living in hot zones (inland areas) receive significantly larger summer baselines than customers living on the coast. This is because average usage in the area reflects the need for more air conditioning than in cooler climes.


PG&E offers optional rate schedules that rely on time of use rates. It may be worth checking out how your monthly bill would be affected under these optional rate offerings. You can see the potential impact on your bill by going to PG&E’s website, logging into their “My Energy” system, and using their rate comparison tool, or call a customer service representative and ask them to help.


It is especially important to review your bill carefully when there are changes afoot. Don’t hesitate to question drastic differences from pervious year’s usage, extreme price spikes or inexplicable or mystifying charges.

Ana Montes