Edit 6/12/08 – this article is pretty negative towards PG&E. Since then I have grown to like them quite a bit. They work closely with the solar industry and even train citizens on the basics of solar energy at the awesome PG&E energy center that they didn’t have to build. They go above and beyond the call of duty in a lot of spaces that they don’t have to with respect to renewable energy. No, they did not pay me to say this and yes I’m leaving the article below as is….. but just respect that they are a for-profit company and that the E7 rate was actually a money loser for them. They had no choice. The PR spin on it is a little hard to swallow, but it’s just business.
I mean, go to Idaho and see if their utility company trains it’s local citizens on how to give power point presentations on renewable energy basics, or interconnects their new bi-directional meters for free.
Couple days ago PGE sent a notice out to it’s Vendors saying it’s getting rid of the E7 Time of Use Rate Schedule and replacing it with the new E6. They are calling the E6 schedule “solar friendly….”
“the EL-6/E-6 rate schedules have a shoulder peak, which means solar generators that are producing electricity in the morning have that electricity valued at a higher part-peak rate, instead of EL-7/E-7’s off-peak rates. While no rate will be perfect for every customer, the revised EL-6/E-6 rate schedules effective in 2008 were specifically designed with solar customers in mind”
So what does this mean simply? Well, the E7 schedule is (was) simple and sweet. During the times when the sun shines, PGE pays solar customers about 4 times as much for their power (noon-six). Pretty rad if you’re a solar customer, right?
But the change to E6 is infinitely more complicated in an overzealous attempt to appear optimized for solar installers. In the summer I think it actually is a little better (and I’m not 100% sure, and it would vary by scenario). Customers may actually eek out a little extra credits in summer with E6 over E7. But take a look at Winter. The peak period disappears. Now instead of making 4X times your money every workday noon-6, instead you get a “partial peak that pays like 1.5X and it’s when the sun isn’t even shining anyway (because it’s winter and the sun doesn’t shine during the ‘partial peak period’ of 5PM to 8PM ANYWAY).
The result? Solar power customers get the stiff one-eye in the winter.
PG&E is a utility. A business. I don’t have a problem with them trying to stay profitable, but don’t outright lie about how the new “solar friendly” E6 schedule is better for solar customers than the E7 schedule you’re dropping. They don’t overtly say that exact sentence, they just imply it exceedingly CONVINCINGLY the general public who has no idea (I’ve studied power rates for hours and even I’M fuzzy…), that it’s in their best interest. It’s not.
It’s designed to save them money from the growing number of solar installations that are going down because of the juicey California Solar Initiative. I wish they’d just tell it like it is.
Last modified: November 15, 2007