Man claims new PG&E rates hurt solar customers

Man claims new PG&E rates hurt solar customers »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - After Pacific Gas & Electric Co. implemented a new rate structure earlier this month, which includes raising rates on its two least expensive tiers, the new plans didn't sit well with one solar customer.
Tim Holloway, who purchased a small solar power system years ago, said PG&E is raising rates on those who conserve, because the company is losing money to solar power consumers.
"I'm saving 30 percent during the summer months on this solar system on my house," Holloway said. "PG&E is losing that money, so now, to make up for it, I feel they're coming in and raising the lower tiers to compensate for what they're losing on the top."
PG&E is in transition to a two-tier system, according to spokeswoman Katie Allen.
Currently, the company charges customers based on their usage by organizing them into four tiers.
Recently, PG&E implemented a new rate structure that will see a 3 percent increase for its customers who end up on its two least expensive tiers, but a 3 percent decrease for customers on its two most expensive tiers - those who use more energy.
"Before I had my solar system on, I was paying $375 for my PG&E bill. Now, it's down to about $200," Holloway said. "This is the effect of what's happening with everybody doing their part, to bring solar to their houses. PG&E is losing some income coming in, so now they're going to make the people that don't use a lot of power pay more."
PG&E disputes that claim.
"We want them to go for solar if that's something that works for them," Allen said. "We understand those concerns, and we don't want our customers to feel that way. With this change we want them to understand, though it's increase, it's a minimal increase."
A customer who averages about 600 kilowatts each month would see an average increase of about $3 more a month. But, a customer who uses nearly 1,500 kilowatts each month should now see a decrease each month of about $21, according to PG&E.
"When you add it up to being a homeowner, when you add that up over a period of time, especially since I've retired, that's just more money out of my pocket," Holloway said.