Welcome & thank you for helping us understand how electricity costs affect you.

The Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT) wants to know how upcoming changes to the way that people are charged for electricity will affect you.  Please read and respond to the survey ONLY if you are a customer of PG&E, Southern California Edison, or San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

We are used to electricity flowing smoothly any time we turn on a light or an appliance, but the grid that keeps our power running is complicated.  Electricity is difficult to store, so our system mostly relies on balancing power that is generated with power being used.  California is also working to move to clean, renewable energy, largely by increasing the amount of solar power we use.  But in the late afternoon and evening, as the sun goes down, the system needs to switch to other forms of power, even as people come home from work, turn on their appliances, and (in summer in particular) turn up their air conditioning. 

The electricity grid in California is managed by multiple players, but many important decisions are made by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates the biggest electric utilities: PG&E, Southern California Edison, and SDG&E.  In order to support California’s climate and energy goals, and help manage the flow of electricity effectively, the CPUC is requiring these utilities to change the way their customers are billed for the electricity they use. 

Right now, the amount that customers pay for electricity does not change based on the time that it is used.  Instead, the cost is based on the total amount used in a month.  Every household has a basic amount of electricity available at the lowest rate.  If the household’s total use stays below that amount, the rate never changes.  If the household uses more than the basic amount, the excess is charged at a higher rate.  This is called a “tiered” billing system.  In the next few years, most customers will be switched from this system to one where the price of electricity changes based on the time it is used (called “time of use” or “TOU” pricing).  This change is supposed to encourage customers to shift their use to times when more clean energy is available or when there is less demand on the system. 

If your household can reduce electricity use at the times of highest demand, you can avoid the highest prices.  One way this can be done is to run appliances (like the dishwasher and washing machine) late at night or early in the morning.  Another option may be to pre-cool your home to minimize air conditioning use later in the afternoon.  If you cannot shift the times you use electricity, you may end up paying more.  Also, most households, particularly in hot areas of the state (the Central Valley and the deserts) will see higher electricity bills in the summer, though many will see lower bills in the winter.

Some customers will be excluded from this change, including all customers who are in a Medical Baseline program.  The CPUC is considering whether to exclude other customer groups too.  Whatever they decide, any customer can be excluded by requesting to “opt out” of the new rates.  You will be contacted by your utility before the rates change, and they will give you information on how to opt out.

What is this survey?

CforAT represents customers with disabilities and other vulnerable customers before the CPUC.  CforAT is gathering information on how these customers handle their electricity bill now, and how the change to TOU rates may affect them.  We want to hear your stories, which will be collected and presented to the CPUC as it considers whether to exclude more customers from the change to TOU rates.  While we will share your stories, we will not disclose your identity unless you give us permission to do so.  Thank you.

1. Who is your Utility provider? NOTE: if you are not a customer of one of the utilities listed below, please DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS SURVEY.

2. Are you aware of the upcoming TOU changes to your electricity bills?

3. Are you or anyone in your household eligible for any of the low-income energy payment assistance programs like the California Alternative Rates for Energy program, CARE? or the Family Energy Rate Assistance program, FERA? Medical Baseline? Check all that apply.
For information on CARE or FERA, copy and paste the following web address into your browser. http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=976.

4. Since June 2016, how many times, if at all, has your household had difficulty paying your bills? Please select one response for each type of bill

  None 1 time 2 times 3 or more times Not sure
Electricity bill
Bills for other basic needs such as food, housing, medicine, and other important bills

5. Under the new TOU billing system, summer electricity bills may potentially increase by $10-$20 a month. Do you think your household could handle this increase?

6. When paying a higher than expected electricity bill, what methods might you use to pay them? Please check all that apply.

7. Since June of 2016, how well does this statement describe you and your situation?

  Not at all Very little Somewhat Very well Completely
Because of my money situation, I feel like I will never have the things I want in life.
I am just getting by financially
I am concerned that the money I have won't last

8. How often does this statement apply to you?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always
I have money left over at the end of the month
My finances control my life

9. Do you experience anxiety when paying your electricity bill?

10. On most days, is anyone in your household home during the following hours? Please check all that apply

11. What electricity based systems does your household use for climate control? Please check all that apply. Do not include gas fired heating systems.

12. Does anyone in your household have a disability or serious medical condition that requires any of the following items? Please check Yes or No for each item

  Yes No Don't know
Your home to be cooled in the summer
You to use more energy for medical equipment
Requires someone to be home for most of the day

13. In thinking about paying your energy bills have you ever ... (check all that apply)

14. How many people live in your household including yourself?

  0 1 2 3 4 or more
Children (0 through 17)
Adults (18 through 64)
Senior citizens (65 and over)

15. Do you or any of the persons living in your household have a disability?

16. What city do you live in?

17. What type of home do you live in?

18. What is the source(s) of income for your household? (please check all that apply)

19. We want to make sure we fully understand your experience with paying your electricity bills. If we have further questions for you, can we contact you for more information?

20. If you answered yes to the previous question, please provide contact information below.

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