We get a lot of questions about energy use, utility bills, community choice aggregation, solar energy and power outages. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions from businesses and residents in our community. We’ve divided these into topics for easy discovery. If we haven’t answered your questions here, or you have further comments or concerns please scroll to the bottom of the page for details on how to contact your Pioneer Community Energy team.
Pioneer does not engage in telemarketing or door-to-door solicitations. If you receive an unsolicited call or visit from someone claiming to represent Pioneer Community Energy, we urge you to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission and to Pioneer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pioneer Community Energy, or Pioneer, is a partnership between the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Placerville, Rocklin, the town of Loomis and most of unincorporated El Dorado and Placer Counties. Pioneer was created to offer an alternative to PG&E to the residents and businesses of member communities. Pioneer also provides local control over the electric supply with one of its primary goals to provide more stable and competitive electricity rates to the residents and businesses within its member jurisdictions. Pioneer is a Community Choice Aggregation Program (CCA) developed under Assembly Bill 117 (2002).
Pioneer negotiates with energy producers and purchases the electric supply used by homes and businesses in Pioneer’s service area. Pioneer provides the electric energy supply used by homes and businesses which is then transmitted over PG&E’s power poles and transmission wires. PG&E will continue to read customer meters and bills just as they always have.
Pioneer customers are also PG&E customers since PG&E’s transmission infrastructure (poles and wires) is used to deliver the electric generation provided by Pioneer. For more, visit the How It Works page.
Bundled customers receive transmission and delivery services (poles and wires) and their electric generation (commodity) from the same provider (PG&E). Unbundled customers receive their transmission and delivery service from PG&E, but they receive their electric generation from another provider.
Pioneer wants to make sure that all customers are aware of the automatic enrollment in the CCA Program and the customer option to remain with PG&E. State law requires that residents and businesses at a new location, within the service area, be notified when they are scheduled to be enrolled in Pioneer. All businesses and residents scheduled to be enrolled will receive two notices during the 60 day period before enrollment (during expansion only) and two notices after enrollment. These notices also provide information on how to remain with or return to PG&E service.
Pioneer will also notify customers of significant items of interest; such as program launches, rate changes and any other items that may impact our customers.
When the California Legislature authorized Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) programs, it wanted to ensure that all ratepayers would have fair and equal access to the benefits provided by these aggregation programs. It did not want to give CCA programs the option of providing service only to certain communities or customers. However, the law also provides for customers to have the option to remain with the investor-owned utility (PG&E). Customers can opt-out of the CCA program and return to PG&E service at any time.
Yes. You will continue to receive the California Carbon Credit. Twice a year, utility bills have a statement that says “California is fighting climate change and so can you! Your bill includes a Climate Credit from a state program to cut carbon pollution while also reducing your energy cost.”
Customers who receive their electric supply from Pioneer Community Energy receive a consolidated bill issued by PG&E that includes PG&E’s transmission service charges and Pioneer’s electric generation charges. This is not a double bill or charge. The first page of the consolidated bill shows PG&E charges and Pioneer charges as separate line items along with the total amount due. Details of Pioneer’s electric generation charges appear on a separate page of the bill under the heading Pioneer Community Energy Electric Generation Charges. PG&E collects payments for electric generation on behalf of Pioneer. For more, visit the Understanding Your Bill page.
PG&E employees and retirees currently receive a discount on the transmission and delivery service portion of their bill. PG&E employees and retirees who become Pioneer customers will continue to receive their current discount on transmission and delivery and the added value of Pioneer’s lower cost for energy.
You will continue to receive your gas and electric delivery charges from PG&E under the Budget Billing (formerly BPP) program. However, your electric generation charges from Pioneer will not be included as part of the Budget Billing calculation and will vary from month to month depending on your usage. Therefore, you may see some variance in your monthly bills.
The following options are not available to customers participating in Pioneer:
If you are on any of the pricing options listed above, you must request to return to PG&E in order to maintain your pricing election. If you do not notify Pioneer that you wish to remain with PG&E, you will not receive the pricing offered under these rate schedules.
With each on-time payment of your current charges, AMP will forgive one-twelfth (1/12th) of the eligible debt owed at the time of enrollment. After 12 on-time payments of monthly current charges, your eligible debt will be forgiven up to $8,000.
Yes, the maximum amount eligible for AMP forgiveness in a year is $8,000.
Yes, Pioneer customers are eligible to participate as long as they are enrolled in CARE or FERA. Both your Pioneer and PG&E charges will be eligible for the program.
No. Any new charges issued on or after AMP enrollment or reinstatement are your responsibility to pay and cannot be added to your AMP balance.
You can miss up to two non-sequential payments, as long as you make up the payment on the next billing due date with an on-time payment of both the current bill and the missed payment(s). Missing two sequential payments, or failing to pay the 12th payment, will automatically remove you from AMP.
If you break the AMP before reaching twelve on-time payments, there is no impact to the debt that has already been forgiven. However, your remaining debt will not be eligible to be forgiven.
Once you complete the AMP, you are eligible to sign up again after a 12-month waiting period.
Yes, but you can only be on one payment plan at a time. If you qualify for AMP, then your previous payment plan will be replaced by your new AMP agreement.
Yes, you can participate in LIHEAP. Any financial assistance payments (pledges) from the LIHEAP program would only be applied to current charges while enrolled in AMP. LIHEAP payments cannot be used for past due balances
In June of 2022, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, AB 205 (Budget). As a trailer bill, the proposal contained multiple provisions, including removing the $10 a month cap on fixed charges. The bill also authorized the CPUC to adopt fixed charges that are established on an income-graduated basis.
The bill requires at least three income thresholds so that a low-income ratepayer would realize a lower average monthly bill without making any changes in usage. It also requires the CPUC to ensure that the approved fixed charges do not reasonably impair incentives for conservation, energy efficiency, beneficial electrification, and do not overburden low-income customers.
California has some of the highest electricity rates in the country and rates continue to outpace inflation. High electric rates disproportionately burden low-income households. The high electricity charges also pose a challenge for households to switch to all electricity and phase out fossil fuels. The imposition of an income-based fixed charge represents a philosophical shift from incentivizing customers to conserve energy by charging more if you use more energy to incentivizing beneficial electrification by reducing the cost of electricity.
This proposal will change how residential customers are charged for their electric services. A customer’s bill will include a monthly fixed charge for grid and other costs that do not change based on how much energy a customer uses. Fixed costs include building, maintaining, and operating the electric grid; upgrading power poles and wires; wildfire prevention costs; and the cost of state programs for low-income customers and energy efficiency. This proposal in return will reduce the average amount residential customers pay by approximately the same percentage as the increase in fixed charges for each kilowatt hour of electricity from transmission and distribution costs, not generations rates. These two costs will be broken out on residential electric customers’ bills.
Household electricity bill impacts will vary based on income, baseline electricity use, and the investor-owned utility. The lowest-income households will have their monthly bills decrease without making any changes in usage, while the highest-income households will have their monthly bills increase without making any changes in usage.
Pioneer residential customers will have a bill that looks different because the transmission and distribution charges will be broken down into two categories (fixed and volumetric charges). Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) customers currently have a complicated bill that is difficult to understand. Changing how a customer’s bill looks may create additional confusion.
The median household income in Placer County is over $100,000 and the median household income in El Dorado County is over $88,000. If the threshold for high-income customers is set at $100,000, it is likely that more than half of residential ratepayers in Placer County (both PG&E and Pioneer customers) will have a higher bill.
Pioneer has approximately 21,000 CARE customers who will benefit from a lower bill.
Solar customers will be subject to the same fixed-charge other residential customers. Most solar customers do not currently pay fixed charges for transmission and distribution costs. As a result, solar customers may have less of an incentive to choose solar.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) still needs to determine how many charges will fall under the fixed charge and what charges will be volumetric. There needs to be a decision on how many income thresholds there will be as well as what qualifies as low-income, medium-income, and high-income. Other questions that remain unanswered such as: how will a household’s income be verified, how do you handle master-metered apartments and mobile home parks, and how can you increase beneficial electrification without decreasing incentives to conserve?
The CPUC is currently considering the merits of different policy design options in an active proceeding (R.22-07-005). AB 205 requires the CPUC to adopt an income-graduated fixed charge that benefits low-income customers by July 1, 2024.
Residential customers can contact the Public Advocates Office (Cal Advocates). Cal Advocates is a state entity charged with helping ensure Californians are represented at the CPUC. Questions may be emailed to Mary Flannelly at: Mary.Flannelly@cpuc.ca.gov
You may request to remain with PG&E starting 60 days before your account is scheduled to be enrolled with Pioneer, and any time thereafter. You may do so by calling 1 (844) 937-7466.
If a customer requests to return to PG&E less than five days before their next billing cycle, the customer may be returned to PG&E electric generation service after the next billing cycle, due to the processing time needed for requests. Customers who request to return to PG&E will receive a bill with Pioneer’s final charges.
Yes, a customer who requests to leave Pioneer Community Energy can join Pioneer at a later date. However, if you leave Pioneer after the first 60 days of service, PG&E requires you to remain with PG&E’s bundled service for one year. In order to rejoin Pioneer after leaving, you will need to contact Pioneer Community Energy directly at 1 (844) 937-7466.
Yes, you can return to PG&E bundled service at any time. If you leave during the notification period, you can return to PG&E’s bundled service without terms or restrictions.
You also have the right to return to PG&E’s bundled service after the notification period; although you should check with PG&E to see if charges apply. See PG&E’s rules for returning to bundled service 60 days or more after enrollment in Pioneer electric generation service which is found on PG&E’s rule #23 document, Section L. If you return to PG&E service, PG&E requires you to remain with PG&E bundled service for at least one year.
There is no fee from Pioneer for opting out of energy service with us.
However, there is a PG&E-added rate charge that customers who opt out from Pioneer will incur, and this may significantly increase bills depending on how a customer chooses to opt out.
PG&E offers only two options for opting out of Pioneer’s service, and which one you choose will affect your bill. The options are:
PG&E rules prohibit customers who opt out from Pioneer and return to PG&E rates from switching providers again for 12 months. To learn more please read our TBCC blog post.
No. the customer’s eligibility for their previously bundled rate (such as E-6) is unchanged by a move to CCA service, as long as that rate is available to existing customers. Similarly, if at a later time, the customer opts out and returns to PG&E’s bundled service, it may continue on with its original rate (such as E-6), so long as that rate schedule remains open to existing customers.
The good news is you benefit from Pioneer’s more stable and competitive rates for the electricity you use. With Pioneer, you can say goodbye to big, annual electric generation true-up bills by paying monthly when your consumption exceeds your generation. Pioneer also pays more for Net Surplus Compensation (NSC). Pioneer posts its current NSC rates online for customers.
When you become a Pioneer customer, PG&E will true-up your account for both your generation
charges and your transmission and delivery charges. PG&E will then make your transition date your new true-up anniversary.
Yes. You continue to be a PG&E customer for transmission and delivery (poles and wires) service. Enrollment with Pioneer does not change your PG&E transmission and delivery rate. If you return to PG&E service after enrollment in Pioneer service, your PG&E generation rate is determined by your unchanged transmission and delivery rate.
As a Pioneer customer, you still maintain your grandfathered NEM rate for PG&E transmission and delivery service, so your grandfathered NEM rate remains unchanged. You will also receive the benefit of Pioneer’s more stable, competitive generation rates when you are not producing power, such as at night or on cloudy days!
Pioneer customers will see a Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) charge or an exit fee on their electricity bill charged by PG&E. This charge is intended to compensate PG&E for higher-cost electric generation it procured on behalf of customers who have migrated to another electric generation provider, such as Pioneer. PG&E adjusts this rate annually with the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.
No, taxpayer dollars are not used to support Pioneer electric generation rates or programs.
No. The Community Choice Aggregation Program is entirely funded by revenues from the sale of electricity rates. The CCA Program does not receive any taxpayer funding, and CCA Program revenues cannot be diverted for non-energy programs. The CCA Program’s operational costs are low. A small staff and outsourced services provide the support for operating the CCA Program. Pioneer can keep electricity rates competitive by negotiating the purchase of electricity on behalf of all of its customers and by developing its own resources over time. Further, Pioneer does not fund shareholder dividends and, as a local government agency, it does not pay income taxes, which also helps maintain more stable and competitive electricity rates.
For questions or additional information, please contact your Pioneer Community Energy team by email at email@example.com or call our offices at (916) 758-8969 or (844) YES-PIONEER. We’ll be happy to help with your power and your choice.