OAKLAND — New this summer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers can be rewarded for saving energy when the state’s grid operator calls a Flex Alert. A Flex Alert is a call for consumers to voluntarily conserve electricity when there is a predicted shortage of energy supply, especially if the grid operator needs to dip into reserves to cover demand.
PG&E’s Power Saver Rewards Program is a free, voluntary program financially rewarding participants for temporarily reducing electricity use when demand is high. By conserving energy during Power Saver Rewards events coinciding with Flex Alerts customers earn $2 for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy saved. More than 1.5 million PG&E customers are enrolled.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issued a Flex Alert to be in effect starting Thursday, September 1 from 4 to 9 p.m., due to continuing extreme temperatures pushing up energy demand including increased air conditioning use and tightening available power supplies. When consumers reduce electricity use at critical times, it can prevent more dire emergency measures, including possible rotating power outages to stabilize the grid.
Enrolled customers who reduce energy use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. will receive a credit on their bill at the end of the summer. There is no cost or penalty for not reducing energy. Visit powersaver.pge.com to easily enroll and learn more about the program.
Here are easy ways for customers to temporarily reduce power use and be rewarded:
Before 4 p.m.
- Pre-cool home or workspace. Lower the thermostat in the morning. As the temperature rises outside, raise the thermostat, and circulate the pre-cooled air with a fan.
- Use major appliances, including washer and dryer, dishwasher, oven and stove for pre-cooking and preparing meals.
- Charge electric vehicles
- Close shades. Sunlight passing through windows heats the home and makes the air conditioner work harder. Block this heat by keeping blinds or drapes closed on the sunny side of the home.
During Flex Alerts from 4 to 9 p.m.
- Set thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting. Every degree above 78 degrees represents an appropriately 2% savings on cooling costs.
- When it’s cooler outside, bring the cool air in. If the outside air is cool in the night or early morning, open windows and doors and use fans to cool your home.
- Avoid using major appliances.
- Turn off all unnecessary lights.
- Do not charge electric vehicles.
Customers can also help reduce the amount of power on the grid during a Flex Alert by enrolling in PG&E’s SmartAC Program which cycles the air conditioner on and off every 15 minutes for up to six hours on event days. This year, new participants will receive $75 for existing thermostats or $120 off a new purchase of a thermostat with enrollment.
Customers cannot be enrolled in both the SmartAC and Power Saver Rewards programs.
Eligible customers with a Tesla Powerwall battery energy storage system can participate in the PG&E + Tesla virtual power plant. Through this collaboration, Tesla is participating in PG&E’s Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) Demand Response pilot by enrolling and combining residential Powerwall home battery systems into a virtual power plant to discharge power back to the grid during times of high demand. Participating customers will receive compensation for the energy their Powerwalls discharge.
PG&E also urges customers to stay safe during extreme heat. The company funds cooling centers throughout its service area to help customers escape the heat and cool off. To find a center near you click here or call 877-474-3266. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services also has as list of cooling centers throughout the state available here.
PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but the company’s meteorology team continues to monitor conditions.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.
Check out this short video on how to lower your electric bill during the summer!