Southern California Edison’s rate increase for 2017 is a reminder that residential electricity certainly isn’t getting any cheaper. As the cost of the State of California’s energy portfolio catches up to recent climate change and energy laws, homeowners are having to grapple with the impact these will have on their wallets.
Recently, 15 million Southern California Edison customers received notices that their energy rates will increase starting January 1, 2017. A High Usage Charge will be added to the Standard Residential Rate Plan, applying to customers whose monthly energy use rises above 400% of their home area’s baseline allowance. Essentially, if your energy usage is excessive in relation to your baseline region, then you’ll be faced with a higher rate that month. Baseline regions are areas with similar climate characteristics, as defined by the California Energy Commission and adopted by the CPUC. The baseline allocation level is also determined by the season and whether your home is powered just by electricity or a combination of electricity and gas.
So what’s this mean? Basically, if your home consumes about 4 times more than the CPUC allocation, you’ll be faced with a higher rate on top of your normal Tier 2 rate. Baselines were designed to encourage conservation by exposing customers to the discomfort of high energy costs.
If you have the Chai app, you can identify your home baseline and see how it compares to your neighbors.
(Note: Chai calculates your ACTUAL home baseline. SCE’s baselines are set in partnership with the CPUC and are closer to 50% to 60% of average residential consumption for basic services such as lighting, cooking, heating and refrigeration. That regional allocation can be found on your SCE bill statement.)
There are ways to stay ahead of the game by tracking your home energy use to avoid crossing the 400% threshold. Chai’s Predicted Bill and Rate Comparison features can keep you in the know.
Switching to a Time-Of-Use (TOU) rate plan is another way to avoid the High Usage Charge. This means that what you pay will depend on when you use energy—for example, rates are lower on weekends, holidays, and evenings. TOU aims to shift electricity consumption away from peak times when demand is highest, relieving the electric grid and limiting the need to turn on the spare power stations that emit far more greenhouse gasses. In 2018, all residential customers will transition to a TOU rate plan.
An additional way to manage energy costs is to participate in a Demand Response program. At certain peak times, utilities are willing to pay their customers to power down. Chai brings these benefits to you in an easy way, through Power Pay Days.
The energy future might look expensive and complicated, but there are accessible approaches to follow what’s happening and to respond accordingly.
Don’t let your utility bill catch you by surprise. Find out if you’re eligible for Chai below!