How to Read Your Bill
When you go solar, PG&E puts you on an annual billing schedule. You’ll still get a monthly statement for about $9 – $10, which covers the meter fee. But what you owe for the previous 12 months will be on your reconciliation statement or True-Up Bill.
Each monthly statement has a line showing your utility usage. Some months will show that you owe (on paper), and others will display a credit. If the solar system is sized correctly for your usage that year, your True-Up Bill should be a couple of hundred dollars or less.
PG&E forces solar users onto a time-of-use schedule. So from 4 pm – 9 pm (peak hours), you will be charged a higher rate than during off-peak hours. For this reason, solar installation companies slightly oversize systems to compensate for usage during peak hours.
How the Billing Works
Think of your account with PG&E as an imaginary bank account. You fill your account with credits when the sun shines and lose credits when you’re not producing power. Under NEM2 terms, PG&E has to credit your account the same amount they charge. That is unless you pull energy from the grid, meaning you use more power than the solar system produces (like on cloudy days or at night). In that case, PG&E adds another 2 1/2 cents / kWh to your current rate.
Before peak hours, your solar system produces power and fills your energy account at 32 cents/kWh. After 4 pm, as your system makes less power and the energy comes from the grid, your rate increases to 49 cents/kWh plus an additional 2 1/2 cents/kWh.
Suppose your system is still overproducing after 4 pm. In that case, you will get credit at the higher rate until the system’s production can’t keep up with your usage.
How to Offset Costs
Since energy rates are higher during peak hours, you want to avoid doing things like laundry, running the dishwasher, charging your EV, and anything else you can comfortably live without.
If you have a battery backup, you can program it to start discharging during peak hours to help offset the higher costs. However, batteries are still too expensive for most, so they don’t pencil out as an investment to use during peak hours. Instead, they are more of a convenience during blackouts.
Do you have questions about your PG&E True-Up bill? Feel free to contact us for an explanation!