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Does Pioneer Community Energy Provide Savings in El Dorado County?

Updated: Dec 13, 2023


You may have seen Pioneer Community Energy as one of the many line items on your PG&E bill. We get homeowners and solar customers in El Dorado County asking us all the time about Pioneer Community Energy. We figured it would be a perfect topic to include in our regular blog articles for both solar customers, and home-owners that have not installed solar yet.


The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors approved Pioneer Community Energy (Pioneer) as an energy provider on November 10th, 2020. El Dorado County residents who were PG&E utility customers were automatically enrolled with Pioneer on January 1st, 2022, or soon after.


Key Take-Aways:

  • Pioneer is Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) in PG&E territory.

  • Distribution, service, billing, and sometimes power generation is still handled by PG&E.

  • You can Opt out of Pioneer at any time via their website or customer service phone number.



What is Pioneer Community Energy?

Pioneer is a Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) that began providing electricity to the communities of Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Loomis, Rocklin and unincorporated Placer County in 2018. Pioneer began service in El Dorado County in Jan 2022. There are currently 25 CCA’s operating in California. CCA’s allow local jurisdictions the ability to purchase or generate their own energy to service their customer base within a PG&E territory. While power may be purchased elsewhere, distribution, service, and billing, is still handled by PG&E. In addition, power generation may still come from PG&E.



Why Am I Enrolled in Pioneer?

When a community offers a CCA for their area, it is state law that every customer is automatically enrolled. Customers do have the option to opt out before enrollment, and some CCA programs have a rolling start date based on location or different criteria.



Is Pioneer Community Energy Cheaper Than PG&E?

While Pioneer advertises cheaper electricity rates compared to PG&E, most customers are seeing higher monthly bills. This is true of both solar customers, and customers that have not gone solar yet. How is that possible when Pioneer electricity rates are cheaper than PG&E per kilowatt?


Well, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) require that CCA customers pay utility exit fees, also known as Power Charge Indifference Adjustments (PCIA). These PCIA fees cover the cost of maintaining and operating the infrastructure that PG&E owns and operates. For PG&E customers, the cost of system maintenance is covered through the energy rates they charge. Since PG&E doesn’t control the rate paid by Pioneer customers, these system maintenance fees are instead itemized on the bill of Pioneer customers. That means your month-to-month bill will likely not offer any savings to you compared to PG&E. Of course, every home will be different and there are likely homes that are seeing some savings with Pioneer. In our experience with hundreds of El Dorado County residents, that has not been the case.




Does Pioneer Community Energy Have A Solar Program?

Pioneer does offer a solar Net Energy Metering (NEM) program. It differs slightly compared to what PG&E offers depending on which solar program you are in, but utilizes a similar structure. Pioneer does offer a slightly higher solar credit at $.05/kwh, but it is not enough to offset the other costs associated with Pioneer.



Can I Opt Out of Pioneer Community Energy?

If you did not ask to be opted out before Jan 1st 2022, it is not the end of the world. If you want to opt out of Pioneer, you can still do so. There are 2 options for opting out of Pioneer.


1. Opt out immediately. You can opt out immediately, but PG&E may charge you a transitional rate that may be higher for a certain period, usually 6 months.


2. Opt out over a 6-month period. You can also opt out with no fees or higher rates by allowing Pioneer to continue for 6 months from the date of opting out.


Why are there strings with either option? Good question. Feel free to call Pioneer’s customer service line to ask them. You can opt out on Pioneer’s website or call them directly to speak with a representative. You will need your PG&E bill handy to answer some basic questions about your account.


Use https://pioneercommunityenergy.org/residential/opt-out/, or call them at 1 (844) 937-7466.



Conclusion

While CCAs give homeowners options for how they purchase electricity, it is important to know what the benefits of being in a particular CCA are. If they are not obvious or cannot be explained in a specific way to you, there may not be any benefit at all. You have the option to opt out if it is the right decision. Want to learn more about CCAs and how solar or battery storage works for your home? Feel free to reach out to Diamond Solar Solutions for your free energy assessment!




Don't wait! Get a quote today and start taking control of your energy costs!

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