Year in Review: PG&E Helps Customers with Energy Efficiency, Affordability
By Tracy Correa
From the debut of a new billing statement that makes it easier for customers to manage energy usage to spearheading much-needed energy-efficiency upgrades in homes and businesses in remote towns, PG&E is working hard to help customers save money.
In 2013, PG&E unveiled an all-new energy statement for electric and gas services. The bill features larger type size, at-a-glance billing numbers and new information to help customers better understand and manage their energy usage. Basic information such as the total amount due, due date, account number and PG&E’s contact information is easier to find. Graphs and charts show daily energy usage and trends.
The new monthly statements take into account suggestions from about 1,200 customers and coincided with the release of PG&E’s first in-language Chinese and Spanish bills. Now, any residential customer who requests bills in these languages can get them. The Chinese bill was unveiled at a community event in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the Spanish bill was unveiled at an event at the Mexican Consulate’s office in Fresno.
Vicente Sanchez Ventura, the Consul of Mexican Consulate, commended the utility for its commitment to better serving the area’s growing Hispanic community. “They [customers] could learn a lot and not just about saving money, but about energy-efficiency … This is great for them,” he said.
Here’s a look at how PG&E helped its customers with affordability and managing energy usage during 2013 as chronicled in Currents:
• In February, PG&E awarded $846,000 to University of California, San Francisco in energy efficiency incentives. It represented the largest energy savings for a single project at UCSF and followed the first big-scale energy upgrade at one of the university’s medical centers. The financial incentive is just one of the many ways PG&E encourages its customers to focus on energy efficiency changes.
• In June, Currents tagged along as PG&E co-hosted an expo showcasing innovative and efficient lighting technology at the Pacific Energy Center. The “Light Affair” showed how lighting can look good and save money. It attracted about 600 people, including lighting designers, architects and engineers.
• PG&E also continued to closely work with its agricultural customers to help them manage costs and become more energy efficient. This included an in-the-field event, co-sponsored by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and others, in rural Fresno County in July to show how farmers could save money with drip or micro-irrigation.
• In October, Currents traveled to small, rural towns including McKittrick in Kern County and Waukena in Tulare County to show how PG&E spearheaded an effort to make homes and business in underserved areas more energy efficient. The program, part of partnership with local government agencies, Staples Energy and Southern California Gas, provided customers with no-cost and low-cost energy-efficient upgrades. For one customer, new lighting allowed her to see clearly in her kitchen for the first time.
• The Exploratorium opened in a new location in San Francisco’s Embarcadero Waterfront. The new facility has even more hands-on exhibits for children and adults but is model for energy efficiency. PG&E worked with the Exploratorium to help it achieve its zero-net energy goal.
• PG&E also is working to help reform electric rates to tie them more closely to actual costs of service. PG&E’s proposal responds to widespread customer dissatisfaction throughout the state about the complex and inequitable system of electric rates that was the result of state law passed at the time of the state’s energy crisis in 2001.
• In December, PG&E hosted a workshop in Fresno designed to help schools understand how to use state money under Proposition 39. About $550 million a year has become available to schools under the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, designed to make schools more energy efficient.