By Matt Nauman
FREMONT – Small and medium business customers learned about upcoming changes to their electric rates at an informal, informative event today (Aug. 16) that included videos on iPads and lots of details, including case studies, on USB drives.
The event even included prizes for customers who Tweeted (or used some other social-media channel) to share their thoughts on the event, the new rates and energy-efficiency.
About 200 customers had signed up for the first Time for Business event, and by 11:30 a.m., all the tables outdoors at the Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program facility here were full.
Some small- and medium-size businesses will begin paying for electricity based, in part, on when they use it, starting in November. This is known as time-of-use electric rates and is part of a plan mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to ensure greater power reliability and a better energy future. PG&E wants to make sure that these customers have all the information they need about how the new time-of-use rates will impact them and all of the rate-plan options that are available. Information is available at www.pge.com/TOU.
“We want our customers to know that time-of-use rates start in November, and that these rates can benefit their business,” said Candice Cintron, PG&E’s marketing manager for the program.
“And we want customers to know that if they have questions about the new rates or need help preparing for them that we have many energy-efficiency programs at PG&E designed for them,” she said.
One customer said he appreciated PG&E’s effort.
Doug Hattori, a group operations manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in San Leandro, said he attended the event “to see what time-of-use pricing is all about.” His company has several locations in the Bay Area and many of them operate during the week, and during traditional business hours. Still, Hattori said that he got a lot of useful information at the event that will help his company make plans.
Even the boxed lunch at the Time for Business event provided helpful information and advice.
“With time-of-use rates, the cost of electricity varies based on time, day of the week and season,” according to details printed on the side of a lunch box. “Shifting even small amounts of energy use to off-peak periods, when rates are lower, can save money.”
After watching videos on the new rates, customers got a chance to sit down with local PG&E business representatives and time-varying-pricing specialists to talk about their specific situations. Materials were available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese, Cintron said. Translators were available on-site.
PG&E has about 320,000 small and medium business customers in its service territory. Customers are placed in those categories based on their service agreements and electricity usage.
Michael Haun, a business development manager for Mission Electric in Fremont, came to the event to learn how the new rates will affect his customers. Mission Electric is an electrical contractor for commercial and light industrial customers.
“This will help my customers make better business decisions,” Haun said. “If they’re in business, we’re in business.”
PG&E will be hosting other Time for Business events, including upcoming ones in Oakland (Aug. 23), San Jose (Aug. 30) and Salinas (Sept. 6). Those links provide more details and registration for the free events.
(Click here to watch a video produced by PG&E’s Time for Business team about the four events.)
Email Matt Nauman at firstname.lastname@example.org.