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Borregans Lose their Cool as SDG&E Bills Soar


Last updated 11/30/2018 at 10:59am

Like Icarus on his winged flight and crispy ending into the sun, Borregans likewise felt the unrelenting heat (and humidity) over the summer. And with no thanks to SDG&E electricity rate structures, the collective discomfort was exacerbated by severe penalties for usage during the hottest times of day during a long stretch of hot days. And some customers still don’t realize they were assigned a “default” plan (there are four plans available) that may or may not be to their financial advantage.

With 117 straight days of daytime high temps at or above 100-F (or close to it), and five days in a row at or above 115-F (123-F recorded at the elementary school), with high humidity adding to the usage, Borregans were hard-pressed to literally keep their cool and still afford their electricity bills.

Some Borregans who were here for the summer were stunned when they viewed their bills. One anonymous Borregan who stayed through the heat/humidity wave saw an Aug. – Sept. electricity bill for over $1,400. “I had to dip into my savings just to pay the bill,” she said. She was not alone by any means, and she changed from her assigned “default” plan to one more suited to her needs.

Another Borregan couple set their thermostat at 90 degrees to reduce electricity costs, and they went away for most of the entire Aug. – Sept. billing cycle. They returned to face the discordant music – a close to $800 electricity bill. They were also not alone; some Snowbirds also reported receiving exceptionally high electricity bills, as well, despite their absence and having set their thermostats at the upper reaches to avoid unnecessary usage.

Yet another Borregan has a “level use” plan, where he’s charged about the same each month based on previous usage. He says that because of such high usage over this summer, he’s not looking forward to that day of reckoning when the actual yearly adjustment bill surpasses the average by a rather large amount.

It is very important for Borregans to know which plan they are on, and when during the day usage fees are higher than normal. A great deal of information is provided both in the monthly bill itself, with even more (including your plan options) on the SDG&E website.

The accompanying graphic shows how usage time periods for Off-Peak, On-Peak, and Event Day hours affect one’s cost for electricity. An Event Day is called by SDG&E when usage spikes significantly (on the hottest days, of course, when we need our A/C the most), and electricity costs are at the highest during hours noted.

One thought on people’s minds is if it’s possible to make use of our MicroGrid (Solar farm with battery storage for overnight use) available not just for power outages but also for use during periods of excessive heat (i.e., days over 110-F).

According to Wes Jones, Communications Manager at SDG&E, “The system is not set up for that, at least not presently.” The MicroGrid essentially helps level the load during periods of peak usage, and it would also not supply enough batter power for overnight use. Jones said that SDG&E R&D projects are underway elsewhere to test battery storage options. In other words, fellow Borregans, don’t hold your collective breath waiting for MicroGrid relief so you can use your air conditioning or reduce high electricity bills. “It’s all about energy conservation at this point,” says Jones. And that means every Borregan has to seek out the best means of reducing consumption during periods of high demand when temperatures are also at their highest.

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