How to get around PG&E's tiered pricing?

How to get around PG&E's tiered pricing?

Hello, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I drive a Nissan Leaf and would like to get a Tesla Model S soon. However, I've been looking at the electric bills at my house and have been trying to figure out why they are so high, often $400+ every month. I've discovered the reason for the high bills is PG&E's system of tiered pricing that discourages heavy electric use. For example, I am currently paying $.34 per Kilowatt Hour, and I am on the Standard E1 rate plan that has constant prices for each day regardless of time. I am switching over to the E9A plan which has lower rates at night but I don't think it will solve the problem because that plan is still influenced by the tiered pricing system, so I would still be paying almost $.20/KWH when charging my car at night, which seems crazy high. The transitions to the higher rates occur around 15KWH per day, which is far less than what I'm using, and I suspect far less than any electric car driver would use.

Is the only way to avoid the punitive tiered pricing to install a separate power panel and meter? For people on PG&E who have done that, what are you paying per KWH?

Brian H | March 12, 2013

PG&E is trying to sell the least electricity for the highest price possible. The benefits of having a captive market.

negarholger | March 12, 2013

PG&E is playing games, E9A doesn't help much, upcoming EV-A is not tiered, but limited in number of customers. Only cure is to put solar on your roof.
I am in the same boat...

stevenmaifert | March 12, 2013

Time Of Use rate plans often come with higher daytime rates in exchange for lower nighttime rates. Do some homework with respect to your daytime usage before switching.

frmercado | March 12, 2013

A dedicated meter would help with your problem. Apparently this is a big issue in California.

Here is a link to the information that guy posted on how he worked this out.

BAT | March 13, 2013

@frmercado Awesome link, thanks. I'm surprised there isn't more of an uproar over these billing plans that so heavily penalize electric use. I moved here from Texas and I'm pretty sure the rates there were far lower without the shocking triple penalty rate that PG&E has.

In the link above, the guy went to quite a bit of trouble to install a dedicated charger, but don't major EV sellers like Nissan and Tesla have streamlined programs for installing home chargers so all that custom effort shouldn't be necessary?

So for now I'm going to try to charge at my employer's location more often, it's free but unfortunately there is intense competition for very few charging slots so that isn't a perfect solution either.

rrios | March 13, 2013

We have the same problem down in SoCal with SCE. I'm going to solar panels to try to keep me in the lower tiers. With a pool and a family who likes to run the ac it should help out quite a bit.

vinnyjames | May 30, 2013

PG&E's PEV calculator is pretty good:

I'm in the bay area and my electricity usage costs $93 on average per month. I made two assumptions; 60 miles per day and the bigger assumption that PG&E's cost estimator is accurate. Compared to the default E-1 plan, the E-9A savings would be 44% and E-9B would be almost 70%.

For their EV-A and EV-B plans the EV-A is significantly better at 63% savings and the EV-B is only slightly better than the current E-9B. The major differences between the A version and B version of the plans are:

A = single meter and single baseline
B = two meters and two baselines

I'm going to see how accurate PG&E's estimate is and stay on E1- this month, then E-9A next month and potentially E-9B but the up front cost of installing a 2nd meter is quite high. I spoke to them at the beginning of May and they said the EV plans had been delayed a couple times and the current estimate was the end of summer 2013.

JPPTM | May 30, 2013

I'm in the SF Bay Area and in the same boat--I have SolarCity starting a big PV install in a couple of weeks. No other way to get out from under PG&E (unless you go TOU and basically shut everything down in your house during the peak times of the day).

Kma6 | May 30, 2013

I would also agree that installing solar panel is probably the best way to go. Give solarcity (another Elon's Company) a call, they will schedule a free consultation for you. And you will learn how much you can save by going solar.

risingsun | May 30, 2013

It is very fortunate that EV's are now making home solar power more competitive.

Brian H | May 30, 2013

?? EVs are making home solar more valuable and important, but not more "competitive".

risingsun | May 30, 2013

Providing power to your residence using solar power becomes a more competitive option relative to just obtaining all your power from a utility when you have an electric car.

Sub | May 31, 2013

to me it made more sense to put solar on my house first, then buy a Tesla down the road. I have an 8 kw system sitting in my garage now waiting to be installed on Monday, can't wait. Free driving for me soon.

MarkinNorCal | May 31, 2013

Kleist, can you elaborate on "EV-A is limited in number of customers"? I have not heard of that clause in the PG&E proposal to PUC.

I spoke to both SolarCity and PG&E this week regarding the pending EV rate structure.

PG&E confirmed:

1) The PUC has not yet approved the proposed EV rate. There is no firm date for that approval, but also no indicators they will reject any part of it.

2) PG&E's EV proposal for the overnight rate (midnight to 7am) is $0.10/kwh and to eliminate tiering

3) It will take PG&E several months after formal PUC approval to make the changes to their billing systems to be able to offer the EV to customers

4) The original target date for making the EV rate available to customers was March 2013, which has since moved to May, June, and is now August 2013. Not much to be confident that August will hold, but we are more likely talking months rather than years.

Solar City confirmed:

a) The proposed EV rate will be loaded into their quoting systems in the next few weeks, to be able to calculate the savings of PV vs. PGE EV rate.

b) The existence of tiers in PGE's rate schedule is a much bigger driver of average kwh cost for EV drivers than the $0.04/kwh overnight rate itself. My experience is that I get the $0.04 rate only for the first week of each month, after that it increases to $0.20 by the 3rd week.

c) Any savings calculations SolarCity computes for PV now, vs E9-A, E9-B are irrelevant for the decision that you will have as soon as EV rate is available (in months). They recommended waiting until formal PUC approval before making a decision with them. Refreshingly candid, really.

I would be careful of SolarCity's assertions on the PG&E kwh costs that their PV avoids. They asserted an average PGE cost of $0.58/kwh, when the highest tier rate I've ever paid is $0.35/kwh. Their explanation didn't make sense, so probe carefully here.

BAT | June 2, 2013

@MarkinNorCal Have you checked your PG&E bill recently? They just switched to summer rates, and I am currently paying 57 cents per kilowatt hour for peak time use. Those $0.35/kwh rates you were paying only apply during the winter months (on E9A).

negarholger | June 3, 2013


page 5 - "PG&E proposes to limit enrollment under the new Schedule EV to a maximum of 30,000 customers."

djc | June 4, 2013

Be careful of the PG&E different tiers too. There are different times for different tiered plans. I just called and talked to someone as I have solar currently and with the impending delivery of my S, I wanted to ensure I had the best rates. Here is some info I noted (sorry I missed the partial peak rate:

Solar Plan | EV Plan
E-7 | E-9
Peak time 12n-6pm | 2p-9p
Peak Rate 32-54cents| 31-56cents
Partial Peak none | 7a-2p, 9p-12mid
Partial Rate none | ???
Off Peak 6p-12n | 12mid-7am
Off Rate 8-30cents | 4-20 cents

Initially it looked like the E-9 plan was better, then I found out about the different times and partial peak tier. I'd get slaughtered when I get home from work (just don't cook dinner at home?).

djc | June 4, 2013

sorry, the forum apparently removed all my nice spacing for tables...

Brian H | June 4, 2013

use the <pre> tag to enclose the table. That's as good as it gets with this foggin' forum!

djc | June 5, 2013

Newbie error... :)

valgin2150 | January 9, 2016

I just came across this and maybe you got all the electrical worked out, but on the outside chance, I just got Solar City panels put on - same brain child as Tesla - ,162 cts fixed, make my roof sexier, and I'm showing my son how to make energy without digging holes. Cheers, and Happy New Year!