Common Rate Terms

Baseline:
A minimum amount of electricity or natural gas use that satisfies a substantial portion of the energy needs of the average PG&E customer in a specific service area called a “climate zone”. Set by the California Public Utilities Commission, baseline quantities vary depending on customer location, the time of year (summer or winter), and home heating source.

Bundled Rate:
A rate for a customer who receives energy supply and delivery services from PG&E. An unbundled or “direct access” rate is for those customers who receive energy delivery services from PG&E but take energy from another supplier.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC):
A five-member state regulatory body that oversees the electric and natural gas operations of PG&E and other investor-owned utilities to ensure their customers have safe and reliable energy service at reasonable rates.

Climate Zone:
Ten zones across PG&E’s service area that represent similar geographic and climatic characteristics. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, these climate zones (P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y and Z) are used to create the baseline amounts that go into calculating residential electric and natural gas bills.

Decoupling:
A California public policy that separates the amount of natural gas and electricity PG&E and other California investor-owned utilities sell from the profits they earn. The policy is designed to encourage utilities to promote energy efficiency measures that will reduce customer energy use.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC):
A five-member regulatory agency that oversees U.S. wholesale energy trading markets, national hydropower licensing, and interstate natural gas pipeline and electric transmission construction, among other activities.

Gas Transmission and Storage Rate Case (GT&S):
A regulatory process held every four years before the California Public Utilities Commission that sets the revenues PG&E can collect from its ratepayers to operate, maintain and expand its natural gas transmission pipelines and storage facilities. PG&E’s most recent GT&S rate case covers the period from 2011 through 2014.

General Rate Case (GRC):
A regulatory process held every three years before the California Public Utilities Commission that sets the revenues PG&E can collect from its ratepayers to operate, maintain and expand its electric generation, electric distribution, and natural gas distribution operations. PG&E’s most recent GRC covers the period from 2011 through 2013.

Investor-owned utility (IOU):
A for-profit utility company such as PG&E owned by shareholders whose operations and earnings are regulated by a state agency such as the California Public Utilities Commission.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC):
A five-member federal agency charged with overseeing PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and other nuclear plants around the U.S. to ensure safe operation and on-site storage of nuclear waste.

Publicly-owned utility (POU):
A utility which is collectively owned by the citizens of the area it serves, including rural cooperatives, municipal utilities, and energy and power marketing authorities.

Residential Rate Tiers:
A rate structure for residential electric and natural gas customers of PG&E and other California investor-owned utilities that is designed to encourage energy conservation by increasing the price for each unit of energy the more a customer uses. The rates for each tier are set by the California Public Utilities Commission.