SCE time of use rates to impact 8,700 in Santa Clarita

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A newly developed Southern California Edison rate plan could help you save money.

You simply have to be willing to let dinner dishes sit in the sink until 8 or 9 p.m. or put off laundry until the next morning.

As part of a California Public Utilities Commission initiative to shift statewide usage habits, SCE will soon begin transitioning about 10 percent of its 4.3 million residential customers to Time-of-Use (TOU) plans designed to reward power usage during non-peak periods when the state’s electric grid is especially flush with solar capacity.

Beginning March 1, SCE will shift about 400,000 of its customers – including 8,736 in Santa Clarita, according to the company – to TOU plans, with a full transition expected by 2021.

All customers who were randomly selected for the initial wave of TOU pricing were first notified via a mailed postcard in December, followed by additional mailed notifications in January and again this month.

“We were very careful to structure the rates,” Andre Ramirez, a senior advisor on rates for SCE, told The Signal on Friday. “We don’t want customers to have what we call a bill shock. We definitely don’t want them to have a bad experience on Time-of-Use.”

The TOU premise is simple: Pricing is based not only on rate of use but also on time of day and season. Rates would, predictably, be lower during off-peak hours – such as late night and early morning – and higher during traditionally active periods – such as late afternoon and early evening.

SCE will transition its first 400,000 customers to TOU plans that define on-peak times as either 4-9 p.m. or 5-8 p.m. weekdays. Pacific Gas and Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric are also following the CPUC’s lead and rolling out TOU rate structures for residential customers.

SCE TOU Notification Letter Example

While Ramirez cautioned that SCE customers could see “slightly higher” bills during the hottest months of the year, typically June through September, he said TOU rates in the off months would likely ensure little change in consumers’ bills over the course of a year.

“Edison’s not making any more money on this,” he stressed.

“The goal is customer satisfaction,” added Ramirez, noting that SCE will offer up to a year of bill protection to TOU participants, crediting them the difference if a standard tiered plan would have been cheaper.

In a Q&A posted to the SCE website in November, Jessica Lim, the company’s principal manager of marketing, said TOU rates would be especially beneficial for customers who could “shift some of their electricity uses to take advantage of lower-priced … time periods” but wouldn’t satisfy all customers.

“If a customer uses more electricity during other time periods, or isn’t able to shift at least some of their usage to these time periods, then the Standard Residential (“tiered”) rate plan, or a different TOU rate plan, might be more beneficial,” she said. “SCE will provide custom bill analysis reports to help customers choose the rate plan that best suits their lifestyle.”

In addition to delaying simple household chores until off-peak hours, Ramirez said SCE customers who are willing to adjust use of air conditioning and monitor lights, televisions and other devices, could especially benefit from TOU plans.

Through Friday, Ramirez said a “very small” percentage of randomly selected customers had opted out of TOU plans in favor of a tiered rate. The company’s tiered rate structure isn’t being phased out, officials said, and TOU rates are not mandatory.

“Our customers can always make their own choices,” Ramirez said. “We want customers to feel they’re on the right rate.”

Added SCE spokesman Ron Gales, “If somebody reads this and they want to try a TOU rate, they can call and sign up,” SCE spokesman Ron Gales said. “They don’t need to be randomly selected.”

SCE’s customer support number is 1-800-655-4555.

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