PG&E Privacy Policy

Notice of Accessing, Collecting, Storing, Using and Disclosing Energy Usage Information

Protecting our customers’ information and privacy is a top priority. PG&E’s Privacy Policy and Notice of Accessing, Collecting, Storing, Using and Disclosing Energy Usage Information (Privacy Policy) covers Pacific Gas and Electric Company, its employees, agents, contractors and affiliates, and is effective July 17, 2014.

We treat information about our customers, including personal information, as confidential, consistent with all legal and regulatory requirements, including those established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and others. We employ a combination of technology and standard practices to ensure your information is safeguarded from unauthorized access or exposure. The information we collect about you in the course of conducting normal business will only be shared with third parties upon your consent or as required by law.

To protect customer privacy, the CPUC issued “Rules Regarding Privacy and Security Protections for Energy Usage Data”. These rules prohibit PG&E and other California utilities from releasing information that can reasonably be used to identify an individual customer, or a customer’s family, household or residence, to a third party without the customer’s written consent, except as is necessary for PG&E to:

  • Provide or bill for electrical power or gas services
  • Provide for needed maintenance or operation of PG&E’s electric or gas system or grid
  • Provide services required by state or federal law or as specifically authorized by an order of the CPUC
  • Plan, implement or evaluate energy management, demand response or energy efficiency programs under contract with PG&E, under contract with the CPUC, or as part of a CPUC- authorized program conducted by a government agency under the supervision of the CPUC
  • Provide personal information pursuant to a lawful warrant or court or law enforcement order, after prior notice to you unless such notice is prohibited by law
  • Provide personal information to emergency responders in situations involving an imminent threat to life or property.

View the CPUC’s Privacy Rules.

Below is a series of Frequently Asked Questions describing how PG&E uses and protects the information we collect about our customers, including information collected using PG&E's Website and PG&E’s SmartMeter™ system. Also provided below are additional details on categories of information we collect and use, the third parties with whom we share this information, the purposes for which we collect, use and share the information, and the approximate period of time that we retain the information.

What categories of information does PG&E collect?

We collect customer information based on our business relationship with you and your use of our utility services and other products we provide. Some examples include:

  • Contact information that allows us to communicate with you, including your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Billing information related to your financial relationship with us, including your payment data, credit history, and Social Security Number
  • Electric and gas usage data gathered by our metering systems
  • Information gathered when you choose to participate in utility programs such as those related to energy efficiency

How is the information collected?

We collect customer information in a variety of ways, including:

  • When you set up your account and interact with us regarding your account, your utility service, and your participation in utility programs
  • When you use electricity and natural gas service, usage data is collected via our metering systems (including the SmartMeter™ system)
  • When you choose to engage with us through our website PGE.com (view our Terms of Use)
  • When we interact with third parties such as credit agencies

Why is the information collected? How is the information used and how long is it retained?

This privacy policy is aimed at protecting personal information (i.e., information about you and your energy usage) that includes identifiable information about your account, such as the name on the customer account, addresses and telephone numbers associated with the account, and the account number.

We use personal information to administer your account and inform you about your energy usage, as well as to manage, provide, and improve our services and business operations. Some examples include:

  • To generate your customer billing statement, and otherwise, in connection with billing and payment on your customer account
  • To enable you to see your energy usage data on a next-day basis via secure access on the Internet (available to residential customers on the SmartMeter™ system or commercial customers)
  • To communicate with you about your energy usage to help you select the best rate plan, or help you, if you choose, to take better advantage of certain pricing programs offered by PG&E, such as our SmartRate program
  • To communicate with you about specific programs or opportunities offered by PG&E that may help you to lower your energy usage or realize other benefits
  • To communicate with you about energy saving tips and energy management tips tailored to your geographic area, climate, and daily energy usage

We may also aggregate data about your electric and gas usage in various formats so that the data becomes anonymous and cannot be identified personally with you. For instance, aggregated data could be a summary of total energy usage for all homes and businesses in a certain geographic area or climate. Aggregated data is not subject to privacy restrictions and is used by us to manage, provide, and improve our services and business operations. Some examples include:

  • To analyze rates and rate structures
  • To project usage demand patterns and plot growth in different geographic or other areas
  • To improve our energy supply planning and to better design and engineer our energy distribution systems

When we use your personally identifiable data, we may share it with contractors and vendors for purposes of providing you services and operating our utility system. However, in these cases, we require that the contractors or vendors agree to only use it for utility operational purposes and to protect it under the same confidentiality and privacy standards as we apply to our own employees and operations.

We generally retain personal information about your billing and utility services, including your energy usage data, for periods of time as required or recommended by the CPUC, such as seven years for individual customer billing records. As a general policy, we collect and retain only as much personal information and only for such periods of time as is reasonably necessary to provide utility services to you or as authorized by the CPUC or required by law.

How does PG&E protect customer information from unauthorized access?

We understand that system and data security is a top priority for our customers. PG&E takes extensive measures to ensure the integrity of our systems and to secure and protect customers and customer data. We safeguard customer information on secure systems with restricted access and have implemented appropriate security controls to protect the information when it is stored or transmitted by us. Contractors acting on PG&E's behalf are required to comply with our privacy policy.

Is my customer information disclosed to others?

PG&E does not release personal customer information to any other person or business entity without your prior written consent.

There are, however, certain exceptions that have been authorized by the CPUC or the California Legislature or needed to provide utility services to you. PG&E may release personal information without your prior written consent as follows:

  • To law enforcement officers, pursuant to legal process (such as a warrant or subpoena approved by a judge)
  • To contractors providing utility-related services on behalf of PG&E—but only to the extent necessary to render the service and subject to confidentiality and security obligations
  • To the CPUC (or other governmental agencies with jurisdiction over PG&E) when they require such information;
  • To others as required by court order or by applicable laws, rules, or regulations governing PG&E
  • To credit reporting agencies and collection agencies if your account is assigned for collection
  • To emergency responders in situations of imminent threat to life or property

As stated above, on occasion PG&E may share non-customer specific energy usage data with third parties where necessary or beneficial for utility business operations, such as academicians performing research that may help improve our Customer Energy Efficiency or Demand Response programs

We do not sell or provide personal customer information to third parties for their commercial benefit.

What information can customers access? Is the customer data that PG&E collects using SmartMeters™ treated any differently than other customer data?

Residential customers with SmartMeters™ have secure access through the PG&E website to their own electricity and gas usage data. This data is collected and provided one day after actual usage and shows your hourly usage on a 24-hour basis. Non-residential (business) customers with SmartMeters™ have access to this data 24 hours a day on a 15-minute interval basis provided one day after actual usage.

Customers with SmartMeters™ also have secure access to their pricing information, including an estimate of their month-end bill and rates at peak and non-peak time. Customers also have an option to be notified when they move up to higher rate tiers by participating in a voluntary PG&E program called Energy Alerts.

PG&E protects this customer data under the same current privacy protections and data exchange rules applicable to all customer specific data under federal and state laws and rules and orders of the CPUC. In particular, except under the limited circumstances discussed above, PG&E does not release your SmartMeter™ customer data to any other person or business entity without your affirmative consent.

What information do we collect about you on our Website and how do we protect the privacy of your information stored or exchanged on our Website?
How do we respond to Web browser "do not track" signals or other mechanisms that provide you with choices regarding the collection of information about your online activities? Do we share information about you with others when you use our website or other online services?

Information We Collect
If you register to access various services related to your residential account or other applications involving your business account on the website, you may be asked to submit personal information such as your PG&E account number, name, address, partial Social Security Number (last four digits), phone number and e-mail address. You may also be asked to submit additional personal information or financial information in order to use certain specific services offered in these customer account transaction areas. We will protect all information you provide us on the website, as set forth in this Privacy Policy.

How We Use The Information
We ask you to provide personal information when you access various customer services offered on the website, and that information enables us to provide you with better service. We may use this information to contact you to respond to an inquiry that you send to PG&E or to keep you informed about PG&E and its services. If you send us an e-mail, then we consider e-mail communication to be at your consent, and we will e-mail you.

In order to provide you with services offered on our website, or to complete transactions or requests initiated by you on the website, we may transfer you to outside services provided by third-party operators. In certain instances, the third-party content may be "framed" in such a way it appears that you are still on PG&E's website. In such cases, we will have agreements with those third parties whose websites you may be transferred to, under which the third parties agree to maintain the confidentiality of personal information about you and to use it only to help us serve you.

Other than as discussed in this Privacy Policy, PG&E does not release personal information about you to any other person or business entity without your prior written consent. Written consent may be obtained electronically, such as by e-mail. We request that you protect the confidentiality of your user name and password and other personally identifiable information that you access on PG&E’s website. Because you are responsible for your use of PG&E's website, please use your discretion when choosing to share your user name or password with anyone who could use it to access your personal information without your consent.

Children's Privacy Online
We share our customers’ concern that childrens’ privacy is important. We have areas of the site intended for the use of children containing information about energy and safety. We also provide free classroom materials for teachers on energy awareness and safety. We do not monitor the age of users of the website. However, if you are under the age of 18, you should not submit personal information on the website or any websites without the consent of your parent or guardian

General Usage Information
Your visits to the website. We collect information about usage of the website, such as the number of visitors to the website and the number of users that click on certain links or utilize certain services. For some applications, such as rate analysis, we link usage information with the particular customer visiting the website. We use industry standard software to create summary statistics of the usage data we collect, which may then be used to highlight what our visitors find interesting, to improve the website design specifications, to identify system performance issues and for other internal purposes.

Our Use of Your IP Address. An Internet Protocol ("IP") address is a number automatically assigned to your computer every time you browse the Internet. When you visit the website, our servers log your current IP address. We may use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our servers and to administer the website. Your IP address is not tied to your personal information and we do not use it to identify you when logging IP address data.

Our Use of Cookies. When you visit the website, our server may create cookies, making it more convenient for you to use the website by verifying when you travel from page to page. The data we collect on website usage from cookies is not tied to your personal information and we only use it in aggregate form.

How We Respond to Web Browser "Do Not Track" Signals and Other Similar Mechanisms
If you use a Web browser that permits "do not track" signals or other similar mechanisms from your computer to choose to limit our tracking of your visits and collection of data from you based on your use of our website, our website does not accept your "do not track" signals. However, you always retain the ability to choose not to use our website.

Links
While browsing the website, you may encounter and choose to access other third-party operated Web sites or online services through hypertext links. These third-party websites may send their own cookies to you, log your IP address, and otherwise collect data or personal information about you and your online activities. PG&E does not control and is not responsible for what third parties do in connection with their websites or online services, or how they handle your personal information. Please exercise caution and consult the privacy policies posted on each third-party website for further information.

Our Use of Cookies
When you visit our websites, our servers may create cookies on the servers and on your computer, making it more convenient for you to use the websites by verifying when you travel from page to page. The data we collect on website usage from cookies is maintained securely and is not tied to your personal information. We do not sell or transfer the data we obtain from cookies, and we only use it in aggregate form or to contact you to offer programs and/or services that you may be interested in.

Security
Once you login to PG&E's online services, any account information you enter or that is displayed in your browser window is secured using an industry standard security technology known as Secure Sockets Layer ("SSL"). By using SSL, we attempt to safeguard the confidentiality of your personal and financial information. Your browser must be capable of supporting SSL. Please check with your browser manufacturer for details.

How long does PG&E keep customer information?

PG&E maintains customer-specific energy usage and billing information for only as long as reasonably necessary, generally not more than seven years, in accordance with CPUC rules and standards.

Can I give my own private information to a third party?

Yes, customers may authorize any third party to have access to their PG&E provided information.

Should I be concerned about giving my private information to a third party? What are the risks if I do so? What are my rights to restrict the use of my private information?

PG&E believes that there are many valuable and safe ways to share information with third parties. However, there are risks as well, as this information potentially contains personal data. Once provided to a third party, customers as well as PG&E may have little control of its further use. Therefore, it is important that you understand a third party’s intended purpose for using your information, its limitations for use and further sharing with other parties, and your rights as a consumer and owner of such information including your right not to authorize sharing of your information, before making a decision to give your consented authorization to share your information with any third party.

PG&E’s Privacy Policy and the CPUC’s Privacy Rules provide you as a customer with rights and control over third parties who seek and obtain the use of your private information. In particular, you have the right to obtain notices and specific information from a third-party regarding the purpose for which they intend to use your private information; the duration of their access to your private information, the security practices and controls they use to protect your private information, the procedures by which you can revoke or limit the third party’s use of your private information, and how the third party handles complaints from you and other customers regarding their use and access to your private information.

For more information on your rights and the obligations of third parties who use or access your private information, please contact PG&E at the addresses and links below or review the CPUC’s Privacy Rules. For more general information on consumer privacy best practices, please visit the Federal Trade Commission's website.

How will I know about changes to this Privacy Policy and how can I obtain prior versions?

We will notify you of any changes to this Privacy Policy through notices on PG&E’s website, http://www.pge.com, including how to obtain prior versions of this Privacy Policy upon request. We will also notify you annually to revisit the most updated version of this Privacy Policy on PG&E’s website.

What if I have questions, concerns, or disputes about this Privacy Policy or my disclosed information?

If you have questions, concerns, or disputes, or request more information on PG&E’s Privacy Policy, or to request a current or prior version of PG&E’s Privacy Policy, or would like more information regarding our process for altering this notice or our Privacy Policy, including how you will be informed of any changes in our Privacy Policy and where prior versions of our Privacy Policy can be made available to you, you can contact us using the following options:

Residential Customer Service Representative Commercial Customer Service Representative
By Phone: 1-800-743-5000 1-800-468-4743
By Web: http://www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/contact/ http://www.pge.com/mybusiness/customerservice/contact/
By Mail:

PG&E Residential and Business Customer Service
Correspondence Management Center
PO Box 997310
Sacramento, CA 95899-7310

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