Here's How to Read Your SCE Utility Bill

Most people pay their electric bill each month without pouring over the details. Analyzing your utility bill may sound tedious, but it can give you some good insight into what you're paying for. This can help you find ways to cut down on your energy usage and identify possible errors in the bill. If you receive an SCE bill, you should know how to read it to get all of the important information.

Electricity Usage

The main factor in determining your monthly SCE bill is the amount of energy you use. SCE has a baseline allowance, which is a certain amount of electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) you can use before they start charging a higher rate. This allowance varies depending on your location and the time of year.

Rate Plans

Your rate plan affects how much you pay per kWh. The two most common options with SCE are tiered-rate plans and time-of-use plans.

  • Tiered-rate plans charge a fixed rate depending on how much energy you use beyond the baseline allowance. Tier 1 is your baseline allowance, Tier 2 is 101 to 400 percent of the baseline, and Tier 3 is more than 400 percent of the baseline. Rates vary by region and by the time of year.
  • Time-of-use plans charge different rates depending on the day and time. With a time-of-use plan, your electricity costs per kWh will fluctuate regularly. Rates tend to decrease in the early morning and late at night because there's less demand for electricity. The highest demand is during the evening, so rates can increase significantly during those hours.

SCE may have assigned you to a default plan, so you might not know whether your bill uses the time-of-use or the tiered-rate system. You might have the option to change your plan if you think one will be more cost-effective with your lifestyle.

Charges

Your SCE bill may outline several types of charges. There are three main types of charges that should cover most or all of the line items on your bill.

  • Generation charges: Supply charges should appear on your bill as "generation charges." These are the charges for your actual electricity consumption. Some of California's electricity comes from renewable sources, some comes from nuclear power plants, and the rest comes from various other sources. California's energy market is partially deregulated, so your electricity may come from a number of sources outside of the utility company. The supply section of the bill tells you which companies or organizations provided your electricity.
  • Distribution fees: Distribution and transmission fees come directly from SCE. These charges cover the cost of building and maintaining the poles, wires, and other structures involved in sending electricity from the source to your home.
  • Miscellaneous: You may also see miscellaneous charges, which are usually a part of statewide initiatives to fund new energy programs. For example, your bill may include charges for a nuclear decommissioning project, which helps to close down nuclear power plants safely in favor of renewable energy sources. If you have solar panels, you'll also see a section on your bill for generation and delivery charges. This will include any credits you receive with net metering, which allows you to send electricity to the grid for a discount on your bill.

Bottom line: Reading through your SCE bill line by line can help you understand where your money is going. Energy bills aren't a small expense, and many consumers have more peace of mind when they understand what they're being charged for. Your bill includes several different types of charges, but all are an integral part of providing your home with energy. If you have questions about how solar panels can significantly reduce your monthly electricity bill, call JP Electric & Solar at (559) 464-6048.