California’s “Super-User” Surcharge
Chris’ Solar Tips: Super-User Surcharge
Written by Meghan Woods, Marketing Manager & Content Creator
Every 6-12 months energy rates are slightly increased at our utility company’s discretion. This “super-user” charge is something entirely different; it is a big deal. A new state-mandated surcharge is in effect to incentivise energy users to live conservatively when it comes to their power. Anyone who uses four-times more than their allowed baseline (designated by your utility provider) will be charged a tax on top of their normal energy rates. This tax is set at 40 cents per kW used, which is around double what most homeowners pay normally. In addition to what you’re normally paying, this new policy could have a major impact since it went into effect last month.
Now a baseline allowance isn’t quite enough to run your home, but PG&E projects that only 10% of consumers will be affected by this surcharge. However, because of the Fresno area’s extreme temperatures in June, July, and August, this could have a drastic impact on many people. Here in the Central Valley, it is a necessity to run air conditioning throughout the day. In particular, large homes could easily fall prey to this “super-user” label, just because they need to cool their home in extreme temperatures. Individuals who have tolerated exceptionally high ($500-600) bills in the summer, will be charged hundreds of dollars more per month.
Why is this Happening?
A lot of people get the bill from the utility company, so they tend to place the blame on them. However, we will always need our utility providers to supply us with power. With all the new renewable energy policies in place, PG&E must counter with upgrades to the grid. There is a lot of pressure on the grid right now. Meaning, solar in California has come down to distributed generation. The grid has to manage all this added production in the day. Because of this, peak hours have shifted from during the day into the evening hours. With solar installations spiking every year, we’re creating a separate issue for the utility companies. They’re having to ramp up a large number of power plants as the sun starts to set.