June 6, 2001
Adding group numbers will help consumers prepare for rotating blackouts. Conservation rebates, discounts available to income-qualified customers.
ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 6, 2001-Beginning this week, Southern California Edison (SCE) customers will see several major changes to their utility bills, as directed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the governor's office.
Most notably, SCE bills now contain the "Rotating Outage Group" number assigned to all customers, which will help them better prepare for outages during statewide power emergencies. Another addition to the bill is the CPUC's newly adopted "tiered-rate" billing structure. And later this month, when bills are prepared reflecting June power use, a new line item called "California 20% Rebate" will be added for customers who meet the summer conservation requirements of the state's new "20/20" bill rebate program.
"Whenever major changes are made to the bill, we get a considerable number of customer inquiries," said Pam Bass, SCE's senior vice president for customer service. "That's why our customer care representatives are standing ready to help consumers understand the new information and how they can use it as an effective tool to manage their energy costs and to cope through the inconveniences caused by rotating outages."
Rotating Outage Group Numbers
Customers can now find an alphanumeric Rotating Outage Group number on the upper left portion of the bill, next to the service account number. This number represents a group of circuits-the smallest units of the distribution grid-that can be turned on and off to manage electrical load when SCE is ordered to do so by the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) during critical power emergencies.
By knowing the rotating outage group to which their homes and businesses are assigned, customers will be able to monitor whether they will likely be affected when rotating blackouts are in effect.
For example, if the news media were to report that rotating outage groups A035 through A045 were likely to be affected in the next round of blackouts, customers in group A038 would know that they may be affected and could take steps to prepare. With some exceptions, SCE generally interrupts customer groups in numerical order, based on the amount of electrical load reduction required by Cal-ISO when power reserves are critically low throughout the state.
Group numbers may change, without advance notice, for operational reasons and as the CPUC revises its policy regarding customers exempted from blackouts. SCE will notify customers of such changes as quickly as practical.
Customers are advised to stay informed of power forecasts every day through the news media and a special online service offered by SCE. A new "pop-up" window automatically greets visitors who click onto SCE's Web site ( www.sce.com), which provides a wide range of rotating blackout information.
When outages are in effect, the site will display a chronological listing of group numbers and communities that were previously interrupted, those that are currently being interrupted and group numbers and communities that are likely to be affected next (if blackouts are expected to continue). SCE will offer similar information through its toll-free number, (800) 611-1911. Before calling, customers should have both their service account and rotating outage group numbers available.
New Tiered-Rate Structure
The CPUC's newly adopted "tiered-rate" structure now appears on residential bills, showing up to five tiers of energy consumption and the escalating surcharges applied to each tier. Customers who use more will pay more.
Those who use 130% or less of their "baseline" allocation (Tiers 1 & 2) are exempt from any rate increase, as are those income-qualified customers participating in the CARE program. However, consumption above this level will be billed at higher tier levels in the form of surcharges authorized by the CPUC. Customers whose usage reaches Tier 5, for example, will pay the highest surcharge for each kWh exceeding 300% of their baseline allocation.
The structure was designed to encourage conservation and to recover the cost for wholesale electricity purchased for customers by the California Department of Water Resources. These charges are being collected by SCE only as an agent for CDWR.
California 20/20 Rebate Program
Later this month, a new line item, "California 20% Rebate," will appear on the bills of those customers who use at least 20% less electricity than for the same period last year. A 20% bill credit will be applied to the bills of qualifying customers for their usage in June, July, August and September.
SCE has launched a comprehensive public information effort to help consumers understand the new bill changes, ways to conserve energy, and to reinforce the importance of preparation and safety during rotating blackouts. The program components include bill inserts, radio advertising, public outreach and presentations, media briefings and SCE's Web site that addresses all of these programs and services. Customers are encouraged to visit www.sce.com frequently for updated information and new resources provided by SCE.
In addition, customers can obtain new rate and bill information by calling the company's 24-hour customer number at (800) 655-4555.
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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 11 million via 4.3 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.