The PG&E Rate Increase of 2021: What You Need to Know

By Scott Laskey

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Last Updated on January 29, 2021 by Jeremy Pearl
Jan 29

If you live in California, you know that PG&E has experienced a tumultuous couple of years. The utility provider has continuously raised its rates, faced lawsuits over its role in several deadly wildfires, and ultimately paid a $13.5 billion settlement to survivors and families, just to name a few of the highlights.

Unfortunately, things don’t look like they’ll be much smoother in 2021.

Recently, Pacific Gas & Electric announced that it would raise rates again in the coming year. According to the utility, the rate increase will help upgrade equipment, implement new safety measures, and help avoid deadly fires in the future.

If you’re a PG&E customer, you’re probably wondering what the rate increase means for you. In this post, we’ll discuss what the future looks like for those in the PG&E service area, and what the alternatives may be.

Is PG&E Raising Their Rates in 2021?

Yes. According to the utility, PG&E household customers will see an average rate increase of 8% in the coming year. The rate increases will go into effect on March 1. To determine how much this will affect your electricity costs, multiply your current monthly kWh charges by 1.08.

These increases will put a further economic strain on cash-strapped households struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic we’re still experiencing, and subsequent economic recession.

PG&E Rate Increase History: An Overview 

As PG&E customers know, this isn’t PG&E’s first round of rate increases. In fact, the utility increased rates in both 2019 and 2018.

In 2018, the utility implemented a new rate structure that affected about 150,000 customers throughout the PG&E service area. Specifically, the 2018 rate change put many households on trial PG&E time-of-use (TOU) rate plans, instead of their former tiered plans.

These TOU plans charged households based on how much energy they used, and when they used it, with higher rates during periods of peak demand, and lower rates during off-peak periods. You can find more detail on PG&E’s current Time of Use rate plans on their website.

In 2019, PG&E implemented another rate increase. That increase’s stated goals were to support wildlife, promote risk monitoring and response efforts, and to implement new safety measures. The 2019 rate increase boosted bills for residential customers by about 6.4%.

The 2018 and 2019 rate increases came on the heels of many other changes and rate increases throughout the utility’s recent history.

PG&E adopted and implemented a series of rate changes between 2016 and 2020 in an attempt to make rates simpler for residential customers

How Can I Lower My PG&E Bill? Two Effective Solutions 

If the thought of another PG&E rate increase makes you feel pinched, there are a few ways to save money in the coming months. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Install a smart thermostat. A smart or “learning” thermostat adapts to your daily habits and lowers your home’s temperature when you’re sleeping or away for the day. This can help you save on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
  • Keep tabs on your water temperature. Set the thermostat on your water heater at 120 degrees or less. This is a simple way to save 10% in heating costs for every ten degrees you lower the thermostat.
  • Install LED lighting. Advanced LED bulbs use 75% less energy and can last 25x longer than incandescent lighting.
  • Install solar panels. While the tips above may save you a few dollars here and there, the only way to truly save money in the long-term is to opt for energy alternatives. PG&E customers who transition to solar power will create a long-term solution to significantly reduce their energy bills.
  • Install solar power and battery backup. To completely break your reliance on the grid, consider installing solar power and battery backup. This way, your batteries can store the extra power your solar panels generate, which your household can then use during an outage or simply to power your home during everyday use. The combination of solar plus storage creates true energy resiliency and effectively eliminates your reliance on PG&E.

Go Solar with Sandbar in 2021 and Save

PG&E will likely continue to raise its rates in the coming years. If you’re in the PG&E service area and want to avoid another rate increase, now is an excellent time to consider going solar. Here at Sandbar Solar & Electric, we help customers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast access energy independence with advanced home battery solutions.

To learn more about your solar energy options, contact us today.

About the Author

Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.