You may have received something in your mailbox called a High Usage Charge Notification letter. This has showed up at thousands of households throughout Southern California Edison (SCE) service area. Maybe you are one of these homeowners and you no doubt have some questions. This letter was sent out mid-January to households which used more than 400% of their “Baseline Allocation”. Here is what you need to know:

Why did I receive this notification from Southern California Edison?

Your electricity bill is changing. Under the new rules of Southern California Edison customers will be charged a higher rate (up to 100% more) for “High Usage”. This is a per kWh charge for each kWh of electricity use that is over your “baseline usage” amount. The electricity bill

The electricity bill sample here shows how your new bill may look with high usage charges. the Tiered approach is set up to encourage customers to stay below a certain level of consumption to save electricity. The worst part is, you will be compared with your neighbors! These higher charges may take many residential enregy customers by surprise, epseically folks that may have solar or other energy efficiency tools in place to reduce energy use. You may be in a place with a very limited baseline energy allocation.

 What is baseline electricity allocation?

SCE’s Baseline Allocation is a set amount of Kilowatt Hours of energy (KWh) for basic services such as lighting, cooking, heating, and refrigeration. Established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the Baseline Allocation is a way for SCE to ensure that  residential customers are able to purchase a basic supply of energy at the lowest applicable rate in effect. Your specific Baseline Allocation depends on three factors: your baseline region, the season (winter or summer), and whether your home’s source of energy is only electricity , or a combination of electricity and gas. Baseline allocation levels were established to provide a significant portion of a customer’s minimal energy needs and encourage energy conservation. The levels were never intended to cover 100% of the average residential customer’s usage! Hence, the much higher energy bills that we are starting to find in our mailboxes.

How is my baseline allocation calculated?

“For SCE customers, it is calculated based on 60% to 70% of the average residential energy usage within specific baseline regions. Residences with electricity as their sole source of energy generally receive a greater amount of Baseline Allocation than residences with a combination of electricity and gas.” source sce.com

Notice in the table below the minimum daily usage rates recently implemented by SCE. This change is coming up as the utility fully transitions from tiered based billing to Time-Of-Use.

So, there you are. Neither the size of your home, number of family members, or lifestyle have direct effect on the amount of cheap “baseline” energy you are allowed to consume. Regardless, it is safe to say that most of us would like to reduce our energy consumption whether as a way of curbing costs, promote sustainability, or just to keep up with the neighbors.