Understanding your Bakersfield PG&E electric bill

I am always amazed at how many people do not fully comprehend their electric bill and PG&E’s pricing structure. Once you understand how PG&E configures residential electric bills, you can effectively begin reducing your overall cost.  In November 2008 I began working with a long time friend on cutting his kWh consumption in Northwest Bakersfield. We started by replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL lighting and adjusting his pool pump to winter mode.  

I introduced him to PG&E’s online SmartMeter account information to help monitor current consumption and review past usage.  I explained to him that PG&E rewards its residential customers with lower rates for lower consumption. PG&E’s billing is set up on a 5 tier system. Here is a snapshot of the winter rates for each tier for the Bakersfield area: (Click Read More to Continue)

(1) Baseline Usage 11.4 kWh per day $0.11536

(2) 101-130% of baseline $0.13115
(3) 131-200% of baseline $0.24711
(4) 201-300% of baseline $0.35432
(5) Over 300% of baseline $0.41049

Take a look at tier (1) $0.11536 and tier (5) $0.41049 pricing. There is a $0.295 difference! My friend’s Jan/Feb usage was 1656 kWh or 51.8 kWh per day. As you can see on the bill below, the first 729 kWh cost $119.53 and the remanding 926 kWh cost $359.78. One of the keys to cutting the overall cost is eliminating or reducing kWh usage in tier (4) and (5). Just cutting consumption by 561 kWh from this bill would deduct $230.53. 

Take note of this year vs last year’s usage comparison on the bill. We were able to cut 14 kWh per day with the small changes. If usage was the same as last year, the bill would have an additional $184 added to it for a total bill of $663.


On the bill above, the average price per kWh is found by dividing total price by total kWh used.  In this case the price is $0.298 per kWh($479/1656).

The kWh baseline is adjusted for summer and winter usage and is different for other parts of California based on environmental weather conditions. For example, Bakersfield’s summer baseline is 19.4 kWh per day and Santa Cruz’s baseline is 8.3 kWh.

For more information on baseline usage visit PG&E’s website: http://www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/financialassistance/medicalbaseline/understand/index.shtml

Jeff Williams




  1. Willieboy April 10th

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    This can’t possibly your bill Jeff! $479 looks more like mine. Yours is probably $25 bucks. Thanks for the article and the web site. I may not rise to the OCD level you and Mr. K have about saving the earth- but I definitely want to SAVE some green and in the process BE more green!

  2. Steve B. January 15th

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    I just went in tried to find the breakdown of usage like the bill shows and could not find it anywhere in PGE website. I just got my meter on 1/07/09

  3. Jeff C March 23rd

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    Nice info. Home solar systems are helping wipe out high tiers. If anyone would like to see a free online solar lease quote, please e-mail me jchagaris@sungevity.com. We help people save money on their electric bills by going solar with an easy $0 down lease.

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Jeff Williams is a co owner of Lengthwise Brewing Company located in Bakersfield California. "Being green is good for the environment and good for the wallet!" It seems that sometimes we humans cope with inefficiencies and inconveniencies when we really do not have to.