More than 100,000 residential customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) are now participating in the SmartRate™ program—five times the number a year ago—giving them an opportunity to save money by conserving energy on a handful of hot afternoons this summer. Participating customers last year saved an average of 12 percent on their summer electric bills.
The plan gives residential customers with electric SmartMeters™ a general price reduction of three-to-four cents per kilowatt-hour from June through September. On a few hot afternoons during the warm-weather season, when demand is especially high, the rate temporarily increases by 60 cents per kilowatt-hour to encourage customers to conserve and shift energy use outside of peak times. No more than 15 “SmartDays” are called each season—and never on weekends or holidays.
Participants cut their demand by an average of 14 percent on SmartDays last year and saved an average of $67 over the season. Less than one percent of customers asked to leave the program.
“SmartRate helps PG&E provide more affordable, reliable, and cleaner energy to our customers,” said Steve Malnight, Vice President, Customer Energy Solutions at PG&E. “By lowering electricity usage during peak periods, we can spend less on power and pass the savings on to customers. By easing the burden on our electric grid, it reduces the chances of costly brownouts. And by reducing generation, it keeps the air cleaner and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Best of all, many customers find that efficient use is habit-forming.”
Customers can save money by running dishwashers, vacuums, chargers, and other appliances in the morning or evening, using shades and blinds to block incoming heat, and by setting their thermostat a few degrees higher during the afternoon. Customers who work outside the home during the day can boost their savings by turning off power strips and programming their thermostats to shut down air conditioning until they return.
Dessie Velissaratos, who lives with her family of five in San Bruno, signed up for SmartRate in 2011. “I am glad to receive the alerts,” she says. “On SmartDays I unplug all appliances that are not necessary for the day—dryer, washing machine and television—and turn down the water heater to warm. It has helped a lot. I can see in our statements that we are saving money.”
Newly enrolled participants receive bill protection for their first full season on SmartRate. With automatic bill protection customers will not pay more with SmartRate than they would without it.
Now that more than 90 percent of the utility’s electric customers have SmartMeters installed, the option is available across PG&E’s service area. This May the number of enrolled customers passed the 100,000 mark—about five times the number participating at the beginning of 2012—making it the largest residential dynamic pricing program in the country. Customers can start saving with SmartRate—and receive a $25 incentive bonus—by logging on to their My Energy page and clicking on the “Enroll in SmartRate™” link on the lower left side.