Residential Tenants and Landlords
For Sub-Metered Tenants
If your landlord bills you directly for gas and electricity, you’re a "sub-metered tenant." While you’re not a PG&E customer, you have certain rights. This is your guide to saving energy, controlling bills and understanding your rights.
For Master-Metered Customers—Landlords
As a master-metered customer with sub-metered tenants, you are required to abide by California Public Utilities Section 739.5 and PG&E’s filed tariffs. You’ll find information here about your obligations and information you should provide to your tenants.
For Sub-Metered Tenants
You'll find information here to make your energy bills and rights easier to understand. And there are proven tips for controlling your energy usage and staying safe. Brochure (PDF, 2.8 MB)
Your Billing Rights
As a sub-metered tenant, you have special utility billing rights.*
- Billing at the same rate(s) as if billed by PG&E.
- Itemization of electricity and/or gas charges with:
- Opening and closing meter readings
- Identification of all rates and quantities attributable to each rate structure block
- Total charge for the billing period
- Name, address and telephone number of the billing agent or company
- Reduction of your bill by the percentage-based on your usage-of any rebate applied to the master-metered (landlord) account during the billing period.
- Conspicuous posting of residential gas and electric rate schedules.
- Landlord retention of all pertinent rate schedules and individual tenant billings for at least 12 month
- Availability of such records at reasonable times for inspection and copying by you and your County Sealer.
- Landlord responsibility for sub-meters, including furnishing, installing, maintaining, repairing, and submitting to the County Department of Weights and Measures (DWM) for accuracy testing.
Additionally, qualifying master-meter landlords who convert to sub-metered service shall revise tenant rental amounts downward to remove energy-related charges for the duration of the lease. This will be done consistent with Public Utilities Code Section 739.5 and Decision 05-05-026.
* Sources include California Public Utilities Code §739.5 and California Code of Regulations §4090. Rights provided by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the County Department of Weights and Measures (DWM) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Not intended to be an exhaustive summary of all sub-metered home issues.
Baseline Usage: A Simple Explanation
Established by law, "baseline" represents a daily number of kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity or therms of gas offered at our lowest rates. Baselines assure residents like you of a minimum supply of energy—rather than all energy—at our lowest rates.
- Your baseline is determined by your geographic region (there are several in our service area), the season (winter or summer) and how you heat (electricity or gas). Historical usage of energy is not considered.
- Your baseline is calculated at approximately 70 percent of the average residential energy use within your geographic area.
- You will pay a higher rate for energy used above the baseline amount since rising rate tiers help reduce energy consumption.
Programs to Help Lower Your Bills
California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE): 20% discount on gas and electric bills for households meeting income qualifications.
Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA): Savings on electric bills—paying Tier 2 rates for Tier 3 usage—for households of three or more meeting income qualifications.
PG&E’s Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH): Assistance with paying a past-due energy bill once in a 12-month period for households meeting income qualifications. PG&E employees and customers contribute to the fund.
Medical Baseline: Additional baseline allowance at the lowest rate. Eligibility based on regular use of electric life-support equipment at home or qualifying medical condition, plus doctor certification. Exempt from surcharges in effect as of June 2001.
Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP): Provides energy saving products through home weatherization and energy bill assistance. Eligibility based on monthly income and other criteria. Federally funded and administered by California Department of Community Services & Development through local agency- and community-service organizations.
|Contacts for Your Electric/Gas Service or Bills|
Your Property Owner/Manager
- Power outages
- Suspected gas leak or hazardous situation—also notify PG&E
- Questions about how and when your meter is read
- Meter malfunctioning
- Billing questions, including incorrect billing, your rates, bill calculation, baseline allocation and whether your landlord (master-meter customer) received a refund that should be passed on to you
- Applying for or re-certifying for CARE/FERA financial assistance
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
- Medical Baseline application
- Verification of a special rate (CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline)
- Applying for or re-certifying CARE/FERA
- Suspected gas leak or hazardous condition—call 1 (800) 743-5000
County Department of Weights and Measures (DWM)
- Meter reading accuracy and testing
- Proper meter installation
- Billing accuracy
- Verification of correct rate
Phone numbers of DWM vary by county. Please check your local county government listings.
|If you still think your charges for gas and electric service are too high after speaking with your landlord or manager, contact:|
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
1 (800) 649-7570
Smart Tips for Staying Safe and Comfortable
- Use a battery-operated flashlight instead of candles to avoid a fire hazard.
- Keep a battery-operated radio available for news and information.
- Turn off all appliances and equipment except one light to signal when electricity is restored.
- Do not use equipment designed for outdoor cooking indoors. Fumes may be dangerous.
- Minimize driving in an outage area and be very careful at intersections.
- Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at your main switch and valves.
- Anchor water heaters and other heavy appliances.
- Secure tall, heavy furniture to walls so it won’t topple.
- Store flammable liquids away from ignition sources like water heaters, furnaces and stoves.
- Have basic emergency supplies on hand.
- Check and clean refrigerator coils every three to six months.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. They last up to eight times longer and use up to 70 percent less energy.
- Summer: use ceiling or floor fans instead of the air conditioning. If you use air conditioning, set your thermostat at 78°F.
- Winter: keep your furnace thermostat at 55°F at night or when your home is unoccupied.
For Master-Metered Customers—Landlords
The California Public Utilities Commission requires PG&E to remind you annually of your obligation to follow Public Utilities Code Section 739.5 and PG&E's applicable tariffs. For more information, please access California Public Utilities Code Section 739.5 and PG&E’s tariffs.
The following Section 739.5 of the California Public Utilities Code discusses your obligations and information you should provide to your tenants.
- Section 739.5 (a) discusses your obligation to charge at the same rate as the utility would charge when receiving gas or electricity, or both, directly from the gas or electrical corporation.
- Section 739.5 (b) discusses your obligation to pass along any rebates to your tenants.
- Section 739.5 (c) discusses your obligation to post current rate schedules in a conspicuous place accessible to all users.
- Section 739.5 (d) discusses your responsibility for maintenance and repair of your submeter facilities.
- Section 739.5 (e) discusses the information that should be present on tenant bills.
- 739. (a) The commission shall designate a baseline quantity of gas and electricity which is necessary to supply a significant portion of the reasonable energy needs of the average residential customer. In estimating those quantities, the commission shall take into account differentials in energy needs between customers whose residential energy needs are currently supplied by electricity alone or by both electricity and gas. The commission shall develop a separate baseline quantity for all-electric residential customers. For these purposes, "all-electric residential customers" are residential customers having electrical service only or whose space heating is provided by electricity, or both. The commission shall also take into account differentials in energy use by climatic zone and season.
- (b) (1) The commission shall establish a standard limited allowance which shall be in addition to the baseline quantity of gas and electricity for residential customers dependent on life-support equipment, including, but not limited to, emphysema and pulmonary patients. A residential customer dependent on life-support equipment shall be given a higher energy allocation than the average residential customer.
(2) "Life-support equipment" means that equipment which utilizes mechanical or artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital function, or mechanical equipment which is relied upon for mobility both within and outside of buildings. "Life-support equipment," as used in this subdivision, includes all of the following: all types of respirators, iron lungs, hemodialysis machines, suction machines, electric nerve stimulators, pressure pads and pumps, aerosol tents, electrostatic and ultrasonic nebulizers, compressors, IPPB machines, and motorized wheelchairs.
(3) The limited additional allowance shall also be made available to paraplegic and quadriplegic persons in consideration of the increased heating and cooling needs of those persons.
(4) The limited additional allowance shall also be made available to multiple sclerosis patients in consideration of the increased heating and cooling needs of those persons.
(5) The limited additional allowance shall also be made available to scleroderma patients in consideration of the increased heating needs of those persons.
(6) The limited allowance shall also be made available to persons who are being treated for a life-threatening illness or have a compromised immune system, provided that a licensed physician and surgeon or a person licensed pursuant to the Osteopathic Initiative Act certifies in writing to the utility that the additional heating or cooling allowance, or both, made available pursuant to this subdivision is medically necessary to sustain the life of the person or prevent deterioration of the person's medical condition.
- (c) (1) The commission shall require that every electrical and gas corporation file a schedule of rates and charges providing baseline rates. The baseline rates shall apply to the first or lowest block of an increasing block rate structure which shall be the baseline quantity. In establishing these rates, the commission shall avoid excessive rate increases for residential customers, and shall establish an appropriate gradual differential between the rates for the respective blocks of usage.
(2) In establishing residential electric and gas rates, including baseline rates, the commission shall assure that the rates are sufficient to enable the electrical corporation or gas corporation to recover a just and reasonable amount of revenue from residential customers as a class, while observing the principle that electricity and gas services are necessities, for which a low affordable rate is desirable and while observing the principle that conservation is desirable in order to maintain an affordable bill.
(3) At least until December 31, 2003, the commission shall require that all charges for residential electric customers are volumetric, and shall prohibit any electrical corporation from imposing any charges on residential consumption that are independent of consumption, unless those charges are in place prior to the effective date of the act that added this paragraph.
- (d) As used in this section:
(1) "Baseline quantity" means a quantity of electricity or gas for residential customers to be established by the commission based on from 50 to 60 percent of average residential consumption of these commodities, except that, for residential gas customers and for all-electric residential customers, the baseline quantity shall be established at from 60 to 70 percent of average residential consumption during the winter heating season. In establishing the baseline quantities, the commission shall take into account climatic and seasonal variations in consumption and the availability of gas service. The commission shall review and revise baseline quantities as average consumption patterns change in order to maintain these ratios.
(2) "Residential customer" means those customers receiving electrical or gas service pursuant to a domestic rate schedule and excludes industrial, commercial, and every other category of customer.
- (e) Wholesale electrical or gas purchases, and the rates charged therefore, are exempt from this section.
- (f) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit experimentation with alternative gas or electrical rate schedules for the purpose of achieving energy conservation.