Five days left to sign up for E-6 rate schedule— do it before it is too late

Most people rarely notice what PG&E is up to. In this case, the company is making a number of changes to their rate schedules. None of these changes are particularly good for you, the energy customer.

First, the E-7 rate schedule, which was very advantageous for solar homeowners, is going away for good on March 1st. E-7 customers should not assume that they will be moved to E-6. Call PG&E and make sure it happens.

The E-6 rate schedule, which is almost as good as E-7, will be available for another 5 years—if you sign up by the end of February. If you miss the window, you will be moved to ETOU A

Second, PG&E is introducing a new rate schedule known as ETOU, which comes in two flavors, A and B.

Here is the quick and dirty analysis of ETOU for solar customers: unlike E-6, it both has smaller daily and annual windows, where PG&E charges peak rates. Through the magic of Net Energy Metering, with solar you got paid at peak rates for energy you produced in that time window. For E-6 you got paid top dollar for your power on weekdays 1–7 PM, from May through October. With ETOU A this time window has been reduced to 3–8 PM, from June through September. With ETOU B, which will be the only available time-of-use schedule starting in 2020, the window will be reduced further, to 4–9 PM.

How does this affect your solar savings? Ultimately, it makes solar a better alternative than ever. Rates overall are going up, and whereas before you could arbitrage your power with solar during peak hours, now you will simply use cheap solar power to avoid purchasing more ever more expensive utility power.

As for PG&E: the company has neither ability nor intention to change its spots. As for solar: the hands-down best way to power a Northern California home, bar none.