What’s Going on with my Electric Bill?
With the recent addition of an alternative electricity supplier in the City, a lot of residents are paying attention to their electric bills, many for the first time. If you’re one of those folks, you may find navigating your way through your bill not as simple as you might have hoped. Here we try to help you through that process, explain recent changes, and let you know about some more changes on the way.
Regardless of whether you signed up for (or were defaulted to) Clean Power Alliance (CPA) or “opted out” to stay with Southern California Edison (SCE), a single bill will continue to come from SCE. Your bill shows the Total Amount Due, which includes both your delivery charges (from SCE) and your electricity (“generation”) charges, which could be from CPA or SCE. You pay this total amount and SCE transfers what is due to CPA where applicable.
Further down your bill it shows the “Total Electricity Used This month” (in kWh or kilowatt-hours) accompanied by a bar chart showing your usage over the past twelve months. This information is important because electricity is charged by the kWh, and if this quantity goes up, so will your bill. After unusually cold temperatures in February, many residents received higher-than-normal electricity bills. This was particularly true for customers with all-electric homes that use electricity for heating, but was also true to a lesser extent for those with gas central heating since an electric fan is used to blow the warm air. Since the switch to CPA also happened in February, it is easy for residents to assume that a higher-than-normal February-March bill was due to a change in provider. For anyone under CPA’s “Clean” plan (50% renewables) or “Lean” plan (36% renewables), bills would have been the same or less under SCE.
The “Details of Your Tracked Charges” section of the bill breaks down the charges. First are the delivery charges from SCE for its infrastructure (wires, poles, meters, billing services etc.) broken down by Tier (or for those under Time-of-Use rates, by time of day). Everyone has an energy allowance at a base (Tier 1) rate, which was 8.958 cents/kWh for delivery in February but went up to 9.505 cents/kWh on March 1st. Any energy use above this baseline allowance is charged at a Tier 2 rate (14.068 cents/kWh for delivery in February, going up to 14.799/kWh on March 1st). Because of Edison’s rate change on March 1st delivery charges appear twice - those occurring before March 1st and those after.
Your generation charges are similarly broken down into those before and after March 1st. (Anytime there is a rate change, your bill will show two sets of charges – those occurring before and those after the date of the change.)
If you are with SCE, your generation charges are shown next, again these are broken down either by Tier (for most people) or Time of Use (for TOU rate customers). If you only see Tier 1 rates, it’s because your energy use is within the baseline allowance.
If you are with CPA, your generation charges are not shown here but are on a separate page of the bill with a newly assigned Service Account number and the heading “SUPPLY/GENERATION”. These are not a duplicate of Edison charges but rather, replace the generation charges you would have had from SCE. Going back to the SCE bill details, CPA customers will see some new line items entitled “CCA cost responsibility surcharge”. These are charges that are mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and are used to compensate SCE for long-term energy contracts that the company entered into on behalf of customers that leave. However, it is important to note that when CPA set its rates and provided the rate comparison with SCE (i.e. 1-2% discount for Lean power, same cost for Clean power, 7-9% increase for Green power), these surcharges were factored in and are NOT additional.
If you are still confused by your bill and want to dig in further, some online resources that might help. For CPA customers a guide is provided at: https://cleanpoweralliance.org/customer-support/understand-your-bill/. For SCE customers go to: https://www.sce.com/sites/default/files/inline-files/5489_SCE_Understanding_Your_Tiered_Bill-r2-AA.pdf (or https://www.sce.com/sites/default/files/inline-files/5489_SCE_Understanding_Your_TOU_Bill-r3-AA.pdf for Time-of-Use customers).
As if all these changes weren’t complicated enough, more are on the way!
The CPUC recently approved SCE’s estimated 5-7% rate increase on all customers to make up for their 2018 revenue shortfall of $825 million dollars. Part of this SCE rate increase went into effect in April 2019, with additional rate increases expected to go into effect in June 2019.
When these rate changes occur, CPA rates will be adjusted as needed to incorporate the SCE pass-through but overall comparisons with SCE rates will stay the same (i.e. 1-2% less than SCE for Lean Power, comparable pricing for Clean Power, and a maximum 7-9% premium for Green Power).
Please refer to the Clean Power Alliance website at: https://cleanpoweralliance.org/ for more information on CPA and its rates, or the City’s site at: http://www.toaks.org/cpa. If you have questions, please contact our Go Green team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (805) 449-SAVE.