Just one month after Pacific Gas & Electric increased it electricity transmission rate by 2.1 percent, Marin Clean Energy is reducing its electricity rates by an average of 3.7 percent.
Will your utility bill be more expensive or less expensive? Well, that depends.
Napa County selected Marin Clean Energy (MCE), a not-for-profit agency that offers electricity through sustainable sources, as its default supplier in 2014. The county’s five cities followed suit last September.
Unless you opted out of the change, MCE generates your electricity and PG&E delivers it through its transmission lines. PG&E also sends the bill. In addition to any gas charges, the bill reflects electricity delivery charges from PG&E and electricity generation charges from MCE.
When the cities joined MCE in the fall, MCE dropped their rates by 9 percent on average.
MCE’s next rate reduction, which will be by 3.7 percent on average, goes into effect April 1. The reduction will bring the cost of MCE’s Light Green 50 percent renewable energy service to a cost slightly lower than that of PG&E’s 30 percent renewable energy service, according to a press release sent by Kalicia Pivirotto, marketing manager at MCE.
“If you’re a typical person using a typical amount of electricity,” the rate decrease should make your total electricity bill lower than it would have been with PG&E, said Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht, who represents Napa County and its cities on the MCE Board. At the very least, the costs should be close, he said.
“We’re trying to keep it competitive with PG&E,” Wagenknecht said.
Despite MCE having lower electricity generation rates compared to PG&E, customers still have to pay PG&E rates for electricity delivery charges.
PG&E increased its electricity transmission rate by 2.1 percent on March 1, a change that means a 1.8 percent increase for MCE customers, said Deanna Contreras, PG&E spokesperson. Revenues from the rate increase, she said, will go toward maintaining and updating the electricity transmission system.
At the same time, PG&E also changed from a three-tier model to a two-tier model that charges customers based on how much it costs to provide service as opposed to how much electricity those customers are using.
“Customers who are lower energy users may see higher bills, while customers who use more energy may see lower bills,” Contreras said. The old tier system, which was put in place more than a decade ago, was outdated, she said.
“For many years, customers in the lower tiers have been paying less than what it costs to serve them, while customers in higher tiers have been paying more than what it costs to serve them.”
For customers wanting to learn how to reduce their costs, both PG&E and MCE have resources to help. Contreras said that customers should sign up for an account at pge.com and sign up for energy alerts, which will inform them when their bill is going to go above a certain threshold.
The website can show you what you used that month by the hour, what your neighbors use in comparison, and can help you manage how your house uses energy, Contreras said.
“MCE is doing some of the same programs that PG&E is to try to help you become better and more efficient in your power use,” Wagenknecht said. It’s all about efficiency, he said.