Energy News For The Smart Homeowner

If your electric bill is high, go solar in 2017


PG&E is introducing a High Usage Surcharge in March 2017.  The exact nature and size of it will be published by the Public Utilities Commission on February 28. There is good reason to believe that the surcharge will be substantial—enough so to change the attention you pay to your energy costs.


PG&E is again heeding the call from the PUC, and is demanding greater economy on the part of the consumer.

With the basic household electricity rate getting simplified this year, the PUC has agreed to PG&E's request for a High Usage Surcharge, ostensibly to provide a strong incentive against wanton abuse of the resource.

What is the High Usage Surcharge? It is a surcharge, as you would have gathered by now, on any electricity you use above four times your baseline electricity allowance.

For most homeowners in the Bay Area, the baseline allowance is about 300 kilowatt-hours per month. That is enough for one single person living alone in a studio, perhaps. 1,200 kilowatt-hours is what a fairly frugal family of four would use. Introduce a plug-in hybrid and/ore a pool, and it doesn't go very far. If your electricity bill is $200, you are using about $807, and you are a few EV recharges away from paying upwards of 80¢ for your next kilowatthour. 

In other words, once you are past 1,200 kilowatt-hours, your cost per kilowatt-hour will basically double. Even after about 650 kilowatt-hours your rate jumps to 40 cents per kilowatt-hour. Rates like that for electricity used to be reserved for Hawaii. Now they are also in California, and we're not done yet. Expect to see several rate increases in 2017 alone.

With PG&E moving inexorably towards the 50¢ kilowatt-hour, and the Trump Administration dreaming of a coal-powered future, we would suggest that solar is in your best interest this year.

It won't be long before you have an electric car in your garage. If you have a swimming pool, you may consider installing an air-to-air heat pump. What these contraptions have in common is that they need a lot of electricity to run. With solar panels on your roof, which averages a cost per kilowatt-hour of about 7¢, they are downright cheap to run. Without solar, be preapared to fork over a growing portion of your hard-earned dollars to PG&E. If you are interested, please also read this article to learn more about PG&E and solar.

Go solar in 2017. You won't regret it.


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