News Business Spotlight

Mandatory time-of-use billing comes to SDG&E

Residential ratepayers in the San Diego Gas & Electric utility territory will be experiencing a drastic change in billing this year. Beginning on March 1, 2019, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) will start phasing its residential customers to a new form of billing for electricity: time-of-use.

Currently, most SDG&E residential utility customers are familiar with the tiered billing structure which is based on how much the customer uses; the more energy a customer uses, the more money they pay. In a time-of-use billing structure, customers are charged for energy based on what time of day the energy is used. In a time-of-use billing structure, hours of the day are segmented into different periods with different costs known as “on-peak,” “semi-peak,” and “off-peak.” Rates will correlate to each time period and will differ between summer and winter months.

A major reason for this shift in energy billing is that California currently has a surplus of energy during the day due to large amounts of renewable energy connected to the grid, such as rooftop solar power. However, as the sun sets and solar systems stop producing, there is a spike in demand from the grid. For this reason, utilities across California are forced to use expensive and inefficient means to meet the evening demand, raising the cost of electricity during this time.

Newer solar customers in the SDG&E territory are familiar with this billing structure, because all new solar systems were mandated on to a time-of-use rate plan as of March 1, 2018. However, with the growth in residential energy storage systems, solar customers can mitigate these charges by storing excess energy produced during the day in a battery and then using that energy when electricity is most expensive from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This is known as “load shifting.”

“The utilities’ plan to ‘boil the frog’ and stifle the renewable energy industry in California backfired,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, “Now homeowners and businesses are incentivized to manage their energy themselves, with solar plus battery storage, in a way that is more efficient, clean and cost-effective than the utility’s failing model.”

Local leader in both solar and battery storage systems, Sullivan Solar Power, is offering a free, educational seminar on Saturday, March 9, at Torrey Pines High School to teach the public how solar power and batteries can help combat this rate change. To learn more and to register, visit www.sdsolarexperience.org.

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