Join The Canopy
Sign up here to get The Canopy weekly newsletter, where we break down the top headlines and share tips and info to live your best life in Sacramento.
With unrelenting 100-degree Sacramento summer days, inflation and an endless list of other expenses — you may be concerned about every penny.
Regardless if your air conditioner is on full blast this summer, you’re probably also paying more on your electric bill this month.
A Sacramento Bee reader wrote to the service journalism team, asking our us to compare the electric costs at the Sacramento region’s primary utility providers: Pacific Gas and Electric and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
Subscriber Curtis Caroll, or West Sacramento, told The Bee:
“Gas prices are in the news, but we should look at electric rates and the disparities there, too,” Caroll said in a phone interview.
Caroll uses PG&E, he said, as he is outside of the SMUD coverage area. He also drives an electric car, so energy costs are top of mind.
It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, as both companies have different electricity plans to fit individual consumer needs.
Consumers who rely on PG&E for energy are directly affected by the company’s changes in stock and liability. “[U]ltimately the customers will pay” if the company faces financial trouble, CalMatters reported in 2020. SMUD, is a local utility company that is mainly affected by its customer base.
SMUD services electric for most of Sacramento County, and some areas in neighboring Yolo and Placer counties. It charges a fixed fee of around $23 for infrastructure.
Why do we care about peak hours?
With summer temperatures causing an increase in air conditioning use, among other things, energy companies charge higher prices for energy being used in peak hours. According to Energy Upgrade California, a statewide energy initiative, peak hours are generally between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., when energy is more likely to come from environmentally unfriendly sources.
SMUD defines peak hours between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
PG&E has two peak time billing options: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Both companies’ summer rates last from June 1 to Sept. 30.
Summer peak costs
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays: 32 cents per kilowatt hour.
Everyday Rate 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.:
40 cents per kilowatt hour when below or 49 cents when above the baseline.
Cheaper rates are offered to those who qualify for the baseline allowance. Eligibility is determined every billing cycle by location, type of heating source, and the season.
Weekday Rate 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: 47 cents per kilowatt hour.
Summer off-peak costs
Midnight to noon: 13 cents per kilowatt hour
This rate is used all day on weekends and holidays, according to SMUD.
Everyday rate: midnight to 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight: 34 cents per kilowatt hour below or 43 cents above baseline.
Weekday rate: midnight to 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight: 34 cents per kilowatt hour. This plan has lower costs on all weekends and most holidays, according to the PG&E website.
Summer mid-peak costs
Noon to 5 p.m and 8 p.m. - midnight: 18 cents per kilowatt hour on weekdays
The company’s website does not list this option.
Electric Vehicle Discounts
SMUD offers a 1.5 cent per kilowatt discount on all electric use if you register your electric vehicle to your account.
Both plans charge by the peak and off-peak rates in both summer and winter seasons, so discounts vary by billing cycle.
Plan 1: EV2-A Rate. When charging your EV at home, you get one bill at the end of the month. Depending on the time frame you plan to charge your car, you will be charged that rate, and it is added to your whole bill. Use this one if your charging situation is able to adapt to match the off-peak hours.
Plan 2: EV-B Rate. Your home and EV’s charging station are billed separately. You must install a second meter for this option. This option is offered to those who can not shift their charging times away from peak billing hours.
What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our California Utility Team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.