PG&E and Solar

Understanding how (and why) PG&E Quietly Subsidizes Solar

Residential Electrical Pricing: Time-of-Use

Tiered pricing is one dimension of PG&E pricing. Another dimension is time-of-use.

Energy demand is not steady. Weekday demand exceeds weekends; afternoon demand exceeds mornings and evenings, and hot summer days necessitate a lot more capacity than the rest of the year. Since energy is not easily stored; for periods of peak demand, additional plants need to come on-line, if even for just a few hours.

So PG&E offers time-of-use rates to encourage price-conscious users to shift energy consumption away from the peak-demand periods.

Electric schedule E-6 is the most common time-of-use rate. Here are the E-6 rates, effective October, 2014:


May through October 1pm – 7pm M-F 10-1 + 7-9 MF + 5-8 SS Remaining hours
Baseline usage 0.31 0.20 0.12
101% – 130%
of base
0.34 0.22 0.14
131 – 200%
of base
0.42 0.31 0.23
201% and up 0.48 0.37 0.29


Nov thru April 5-8pm M-F Remaining hrs
Baseline usage 0.14 0.12
101% – 130% of base 0.16 0.15
131 – 200%
of base
0.25 0.24
201% and up 0.31 0.30

At a gut-level, these tables makes sense. Peak-demand for electrical energy in California is weekdays during the summer – businesses are open, and air conditioners are running.

Note that the peak- hour periods do not quite match the business day. That’s because A) businesses don’t need air conditioning first thing in the morning, and B) homeowners turn on their own AC units, once they get home from work.

Here again, PG&E is not offering those adding solar to their home a “subsidy”. But if you happen to turn on your air conditioner before 7pm on weekdays, those solar panels on your roof will be saving you somewhere between 31 cents and 48 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Serious savings.

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