Learn whether you are a sub-metered tenant
When your landlord bills you directly for gas and electricity, you’re a sub-metered tenant. As a sub-metered tenant, you are not a PG&E customer. On this page, you can find a guide to help you save energy, control costs and understand your rights.
Find information for master-metered customers with sub-metered tenants
As a master-metered customer with sub-metered tenants, you are required to abide by California Public Utilities Section 739.5 and PG&E-filed tariffs. This page describes your obligations as a sub-metered landlord and provides the information that you must give to your sub-metered tenants.
Learn more about billing and landlord responsibilities
Learn about your sub-metered home, paying for your energy costs and your landlord’s responsibilities in this section.
Learn about your billing rights
As a sub-metered tenant, you have special utility billing rights, including:
- Billing rates that match what PG&E charges
- Itemization of electricity and/or gas charges with:
- Opening and closing meter readings
- Identification of all rates and quantities connected to each rate structure block
- Total charges for the billing period
- Name, address and telephone number of the billing agent or company
- Reduction of your bill by a percentage based on your energy use and by rebates that may be applied to the master-metered landlord account during the billing period
- Posting of gas and electric rate schedules in easy-to-find locations
- Landlord retention, for at least 12 months, of all pertinent rate schedules and tenant billings; records must be made available at reasonable times for inspection and copying by you and the County Sealer
- Landlord furnishing, installation, maintenance and repair of sub-meters; landlords must also submit information to the County Department of Weights and Measures (DWM) for accuracy testing
In addition, qualifying master-meter landlords who change to sub-metered service must reduce tenant rental amounts to remove energy-related charges for the duration of the lease. This policy is consistent with Public Utilities Code Section 739.5 and Decision 05-05-026.
PLEASE NOTE: Sources include California Public Utilities Code §739.5 and California Code of Regulations §4090. Rights are provided by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the County DWM and PG&E. This information is not intended to be an exhaustive summary of all sub-metered home issues.
Understand baseline usage
Established by law, a baseline represents a daily number of kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity or therms of gas offered at our lowest rates. Baselines help assure residential customers of a minimum supply of energy, rather than all energy, at these rates.
- Your baseline is determined by geographic region within our service area, the season, and whether you heat your home with electricity or gas. Your past energy use is not factored in your baseline.
- Your baseline is calculated at approximately 70 percent of the average residential energy use within your geographic area.
- You pay a higher rate for energy used above the baseline amount. Increasing rate tiers help reduce energy consumption.
Learn more about baseline quantities. Visit Understanding Baseline Quantities (Tier 1 Allowance).
Find programs to help lower your energy bill
Check out the following PG&E programs to learn whether you qualify for savings on your energy costs:
- California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) offers a 20 percent energy charge discount to qualified households. Visit CARE Sub-Metered Residential Facilities.
- Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) offers savings on Tier 2 and Tier 3 electric charges to qualified households. Visit FERA Sub-Metered Residential Facilities.
- Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) offers help paying a past-due energy bill for qualified households. We offer this option only once during a 12-month period. PG&E employees and customers help fund REACH. Visit REACH (Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help).
- Medical Baseline is an additional baseline allowance offered at the lowest rate to eligible residential customers who meet specific guidelines. Visit Medical Baseline Allowance.
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) offers energy-saving products, home weatherproofing and energy bill assistance to qualified households. HEAP is federally funded and administered by the California Department of Community Services & Development through local agency- and community-service organizations. Visit Energy Savings Assistance Program.
Get contact information for electric and gas service or bills
There several options for getting information on your service bills. The following are different methods.
Contact your master-meter landlord or property manager in the following situations:
- Reporting power outages
- Learning about how and when your meter is read
- Reporting meter malfunctions
- Asking billing questions, including incorrect billing, rates, calculations, baseline allocations and verifying whether your landlord received a rebate that must be passed on to you
- Applying for or re-certifying for CARE or FERA financial assistance
NOTE: When you smell gas or suspect a gas leak or hazardous situation, call your landlord or property manager and PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
Contact PG&E in the following situations:
- Applying for Medical Baseline
- Verifying a special rate, for example, CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline
- Applying for or re-certifying for CARE or FERA
NOTE: When you smell gas or suspect a gas leak or hazardous situation, call your landlord or property manager and PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
Contact the County DWM in the following situations:
- Learning about meter reading accuracy and testing
- Understating proper meter installation
- Verifying billing accuracy and rates
Check your local county government listings to find contact information for your area’s DWM office. If you’re concerned that your gas or electric charges seem too high, contact your landlord or property manager first. Then, contact the CPUC with any continued concerns about your charges. Visit California Public Utilities Commission. You can also call the CPUC at 1-800-649-7570 or send a letter to:
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Follow smart tips for staying safe and comfortable
The following tips can help you save energy and stay safe during emergencies.
Stay safe during a power outage:
- Use a battery-operated flashlight instead of candles to avoid a fire.
- Keep a battery-operated radio available for news and information.
- Turn off all appliances and equipment. Keep one light switched on to signal when electricity is restored.
- Never use outdoor cooking equipment indoors because dangerous fumes may be created.
- Minimize driving in an outage area and be careful at intersections.
Prepare for earthquakes:
- 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.
- Store flammable liquids away from ignition sources like water heaters, furnaces and stoves.
- Keep basic emergency supplies on hand.
Save energy and costs:
- Check and clean refrigerator coils every three to six months.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL). CFL bulbs last up to eight times longer and use up to 70 percent less energy.
- During the summer, use ceiling or floor fans instead of air conditioning (AC). When you use AC, set your thermostat at 78°F, health permitting.
- During the winter, set your furnace thermostat at 55°F at night or when your home is unoccupied, health permitting.
Learn more about master-metered customer obligations
The CPUC requires that we remind you of your obligation to follow Public Utilities Code Section 739.5 and applicable PG&E tariffs annually. Find more detailed information about the obligations from PUBLIC UTILITIES CODE SECTION 727-758 or by visiting PG&E TARIFFS.
The following Section 739.5 of the California Public Utilities Code discusses your obligations and the information that you must provide to your sub-metered tenants:
- Section 739.5 (a) discusses your obligation to charge at the same rate as the utility charges 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 sub-metered facilities.
- Section 739.5 (e) discusses the information that should be present on tenant bills.
- Section 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.
- Section 739 (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.
- Section 739 (b) (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.
- Section 739 (b) (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.
- Section 739 (b) (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.
- Section 739 (b) (5) The limited additional allowance shall also be made available to scleroderma patients in consideration of the increased heating needs of those persons.
- Section 739 (b) (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.
- Section 739 (c) (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.
- Section 739 (c) (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.
- Section 739 (c) (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.
- Section 739 (d) (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.
- Section 739 (d) (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.
- Section 739 (e) Wholesale electrical or gas purchases, and the rates charged therefore, are exempt from this section.
- Section 739 (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.