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What are our current SCE electric rates?

If you're on SCE's standard residential rate plan, here are the rates you currently pay:

Standard Plan's Rates

Plan Name: Domestic (D)
Last Update: January 1, 2018
Fixed Charge: MinimumEnergy Charge: $9.33
Service Charge: $0.94
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.175
Tier2: $0.247
Tier3: $0.347
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 286 kWh
Tier2: Next 857 kWh
Tier3: Above 1,143 kWh
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.175
Tier2: $0.247
Tier3: $0.347
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 292 kWh
Tier2: Next 876 kWh
Tier3: Above 1,167 kWh

* These are the energy quantities in one part of SCE's territory—your actual quantities may be different, depending on where you live.

What if we're on Time-of-Use?

If you're already on SCE's most popular Time-of-Use residential rate plan, here are the rates you currently pay:

Time-of-Use plan's rates

Plan Name: Time of Use Domestic (TOU-D-A)
Last Update: January 1, 2018
Fixed Charge: MinimumEnergy Charge: $9.33
Service Charge: $0.94
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.043
Mid-Peak: $0.195
Peak: $0.398
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 8am, 8pm to midnight
Mid-Peak: 8am to 2pm
Peak: 2pm to 8pm
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Mid-Peak:
Peak:
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Off-Peak: $0.047
Mid-Peak: $0.189
Peak: $0.275
Weekday Times
Off-Peak: Midnight to 8am, 8pm to midnight
Mid-Peak: 8am to 2pm
Peak: 2pm to 8pm
Weekend Times
Off-Peak: All hours
Mid-Peak:
Peak:
Summer (June 1 to September 30)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: 00
Tier2: $0.081
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 286 kWh
Tier2: Above 286 kWh
Winter (October 1 to May 31)
Rate per kWh
Tier1: 00
Tier2: $0.081
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 292 kWh
Tier2: Above 292 kWh

 

A Time-of-Use electric rate plan is an electricity plan where the amount you are charged per kilowatt hour (kWh) for power is determined by the time of day that you use it.

They typically have Peak times of the day with higher rates and an Off-Peak period with lower rates.

How does SCE rate plan work?

Your electric bill has two parts:

  • A fixed monthly charge.
  • A charge per unit of energy used.

The fixed monthly charge covers SCE expenses that aren't directly related to your energy use. Examples are SCE's phone-support staff, and the hold music you hear while waiting for phone support (Mr. Snarky Pants wrote this article). As the name suggests, the fixed charge doesn't change month by month. It's a lower charge ($29/mo) than the energy charge.

What's the energy unit that SCE uses?

Like other U.S. utilities, they charge per "kilowatt hour," abbreviated as "kWh". Understanding kilowatt hours will help you cut your electric bill.

 

Let's break it down with the classic light bulb example:

100 light bulbs x 10 watts per light bulb = 1,000 watts.
A "kilo" is a thousand, so 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt.
If the light bulbs are left on for 1 hour, that's 1 kilowatt x 1 hour = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh).

1 kilowatt x 1 hour = 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh)

Let's make sure you got that.

 

How many kilowatt-hours are used if you leave 300 10-watt light bulbs on for an hour? ...You're right!

3 kilowatt-hours (300 bulbs x 10 watts = 3,000 watts / 1,000 = 3 kilowatts.
Left on over 1 hour = 3 kilowatt-hours).

300 light bulbs 3 kilowatst x 1 hour = 3 kilowatt-hour (kWh)

Now let's talk money.

 

How much does SCE charge to keep these 100 light bulbs on for an hour?

Under the standard rate plan (D), they charge 22¢ per kWh on average.
1 kWh x 22¢ per kWh = 22¢.
If the 100 light bulbs were kept on 24x7 for a month (720 hours straight), SCE would charge $158.40.

100 lightbulbs x 24/7 x 22 cents = $158.40

What are Rate Tiers?

To complicate things (we're talking about electric bills after all), SCE doesn't just charge the same flat rate for every kWh of energy. They increase the rate when energy-use thresholds are reached across the month. In other words, the standard rate plan (D) is a “Tiered” rate plan. Energy in the top tier (tier 3) is twice as expensive as energy in the first tier.

Let's connect this to life with a 1 kW espresso machine. Let's say the machine is on for an hour every morning. Using summer-season rates, the total cost to run it in the first week (at the cheapest tier-1 rate) is: $1.22. The cost to run it in the last week (at the most expensive tier-3 rate) is: $2.43. So the utility is charging an extra $1.20 for the same amount of energy (7 kWh).

Is it worth foregoing espresso in the last week to save $1.20? Never!

 

A Tiered rate plan is a plan where the amount you pay per kWh for electricity increases as the quantity of electricity you use increases. Generally there is an allowance of kWh's (kilowatt hours) per month at a cheaper rate and then use above this allowance is charged at a higher rate.

How much does a typical SCE customer pay per month?

A typical family in SCE territory (specifically in Pomona, CA) uses 876 kWhs per month on average (that works out to 120 10-watt light bulbs left on 24x7). They pay $189 per month for those 876 kWhs.

How do SCE rates compare to the national average?

SCE rates are a lot higher than the national average. The average for a typical family is 22¢s; per kWh (including the fixed charge). The average national residential rate is 13¢s;, according to the U.S. Energy Info. Admin.

Can we save money by switching rate plans?

SCE has a newer type of rate plan you can switch to, called a Time-of-Use rate plan. With Time-of-Use, you pay a different rate depending on when you use energy over the course of a day. To learn more about this option and whether it's a better fit for your home, let's continue to the article: The Three Best Ways to Cut Your SCE Electric Bill.

How do I work out if I am on the cheapest SCE rate plan for my usage pattern?

If you can limit your usage during peak times then a time of use plan is probably going to end up cheaper. Although, if you cannot limit usage during peak times, then a tiered plan is the way to go.

Big utilities are all making the switch to time of use billing. So, it could be a good idea to get in the habit now of using less power during peak times (3-8pm on weekdays).

To do an exact comparison on how much you would save from switching plans requires collecting your detailed usage data for the last 12 months. This is known as Interval Data and sometimes also called Green Button Data.

 

Interval Data
Green Button data

 

Interval or Green Button data is your electrical usage data for the last 12 months in one hour (or even shorter) intervals. This data is available from your utility provider.

 

HINT: Often the easiest way to get this data is to ask a solar company to get it for you, as they need to retrieve this data anyway in order to properly estimate the costs and savings that might be available to you by installing solar panels in the SCE area.

How do I get my interval data for the last 12 months?

This data is available from SCE. They are required by law to send it to you. Although, this is not the easiest way to obtain the data.

There is also a website called UtilityAPI.com that allows you to get this data for $15 (they have an electronic interface to SCE).

However, if you own your home and it is a single family dwelling, then a really good way to get this data for free is to request solar quotes from local solar companies.

Generally, solar offers much bigger savings than simply swapping rate plans (as the plans are designed to give the same overall cost to average consumers) and a solar designer will usually need to get the same interval data to work out what size solar system would cover your bill, and to forecast savings accurately for you.

Solar companies will usually retrieve and analyze your interval electricity usage data for free in the hope of winning your solar business.

Find out how to reduce your SCE electricity bill.