The Coast News Group
San Diego Gas & Electric’s Time of Use pilot program study commences in June and runs through December 2017. Photo courtesy SDG&E

SDG&E to study summer energy usage

REGION — San Diego County’s largest electricity provider is rolling out a pilot program this summer to study when energy is used.

San Diego Gas & Electric’s Time of Use study commences in June and runs through December 2017. The company is testing different rates and those who opted to participate in the study will be randomly placed in one of the Time of Use rates similar to the standard residential rate.

Amber Albrecht, a representative for SDG&E, said two plans are available for customers. Time of Use, she said, is a new way of charging for energy based on when it is used.

These options, however, are for residential customers, while business and industry already use Time of Use, Albrecht added.

The Time of Use program, she said, is at capacity with 15,000 participating, although customers can try the one-year Whenergy option.

“Some people may be familiar with congesting pricing,” she said, comparing to highway charges. “If you end up using FastTrack, it may cost more to use those lanes during a specific time of day. Just apply that philosophy to the electrical grid.”

She said the goal is to have residents use energy when it is most available, which typically is in the early morning or late evening.

“It’s really trying to figure out how customers react to certain timeframes,” Albrecht said. “It’s a more robust program than we have done previously.”

Whenergy, meanwhile, consists of two plans for customers to choose based on their consumption. The first is Time of Use and the second in Time of Use Plus.

The Plus program requires users to participate in “reduce your use days,” Albrecht said. It aims to conserve energy between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to alleviate strain on the power grid.

“You actually see greater savings on your bill, but it does mean using less energy when we need you to use less,” Albrecht said. “The main goal of these programs … is to use energy when it is the least cost.”

She said using the SDG&E website can provide the tools for customers to assist in lowering monthly bills and usage.

“We have more data available to track how much energy you’re using, especially with the summer months coming,” Albrecht added. “People can sign up for energy alerts.”

The TOU Plus program is a one-year, no risk commitment, she added. So, if a customer does not save on their bill, the monthly costs are compared to their previous plan and a bill credit is applied.

Customers can opt out of the program anytime and return to the standard Time of Use rate. Reward payments will be honored through the time in the program, but customers will be ineligible for any other payments.

Those who join the program for the duration and complete several short surveys will receive up to $200 in credit.