After almost two years of negotiation, a settlement was filed in the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Phase Two General Rate Case. PG&E originally asked for an average 5.1 percent increase for agriculture, on top of the Phase One revenue requirement for all customers. At the conclusion of negotiations the Ag Energy Consumers Association (AECA), PG&E and other parties settled on a 0.7 percent increase for agriculture. That will be added to the Phase One increase of 5.5 percent in 2019 and 4.9 percent in 2020.
Also under discussion was a proposed shift in Time-Of-Use (TOU) periods. PG&E proposed to change the peak TOU period from 12:00PM-6:00PM to 5:00PM-10:00PM and eliminate weekend off-peak periods. Peak periods are changing as more solar renewable energy is added to the generation mix. AECA was able secure more reasonable peak period of 5:00PM-8:00PM and ensured that the TOU period shift will not occur until March of 2021. Starting in 2021, weekends will have on-peak periods for the first time, but a new rate was created for those who need a prolonged off-peak period for irrigation. The new rates will be made available to customers to transfer to on an optional basis starting no later than March of 2020. At that time, customers will also be able to use PG&E’s online tool to see how their bills might change under different scenarios. Account and customer service representatives will also be available to help ag customers understand how the changes will impact their bills and to offer best rate options.
Customers who have installed solar will be grandfathered on existing TOU periods for ten years after their interconnection date. PG&E had proposed to narrow the differentials between peak and off-peak prices for solar customers, but AECA was able to work out a timeline for those differentials to be narrowed, to ensure investments made to feed energy back into the grid during peak hours will be protected.
It is important to note that this settlement has not yet been approved by the CPUC. It is hard to predict when it will be set for a vote, but it is expected to be approved by the end of 2018. AECA is an organization made up of growers, ag associations, water agencies and irrigation districts, ranchers and food processors. Association President/CEO Roger Isom is the current President of AECA.