FAQs

Questions about Pioneer

What is Pioneer Community Energy (Pioneer)?

Pioneer is a partnership between the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Rocklin and the town of Loomis, and Placer County. Pioneer was created to provide local control over the electric supply with one of its primary goals to provide lower and more stable electricity rates to the residents and businesses within its member jurisdictions. One of Pioneer’s main programs is a Community Choice Aggregation Program (CCA) developed under Assembly Bill 117 (2002). Pioneer purchases the electric supply, and then partners with PG&E to transmit and deliver the power over PG&E’s poles and wires. PG&E continues to own, operate, and maintain its poles and wires, including outage response. PG&E also continues to provide meter reading and billing services for Pioneer’s customer.

How can Pioneer offer lower electric generation rates than PG&E?

Pioneer is a not-for-profit government organization. As a local government agency, Pioneer does not pay income taxes, and unlike an investor owed utility, Pioneer does not make distributions to shareholders. Pioneer invests in the local community through lower rates and programs that benefit local residents and businesses.

On December 11, 2017, the Pioneer Board set rates at 3% less than PG&E for all rate schedules. Prior to setting the rates, the Pioneer Board published legal notices in the local newspapers of its intent to hold a public hearing on December 11, 2017 to consider setting rates 3% lower than PG&E’s electric generation rates.  On March 1, 2018, PG&E raised its rates 8-10 percent. The Pioneer Board conducted another rate hearing March 19, 2018 to consider whether or not to make any adjustments. The Pioneer Board decided to leave Pioneer rates as they were set originally in December 2017, which means Pioneer customers save more. Visit the Pioneer Rates page for rate comparisons.

Pioneer is supported by the rates charged for the electricity is supplies. It is not supported by any tax dollars.

How does Pioneer’s CCA Program work?

Pioneer purchases the electric supply used by homes and business. Pioneer provides the electric supply used by homes and business which is then transmitted over PG&E’s poles and wires. PG&E will continue to read customer meters and bill just as they always have. Your PG&E bill will have Pioneer’s electric supply charges added to it, and PG&E’s electric supply charges will no longer be included on  your bill.

Pioneer customers are also PG&E customers since PG&E’s transmission infrastructure (poles and wires) is used to deliver the electric generation provided by Pioneer.

What is the difference between bundled and unbundled electric service?

Bundled customers receive both their transmission and deliver services (poles and wires) and their electric generation (commodity) from the same provider. Unbundled customers receive their transmission and deliver service from an investor owned utility, and they receive their electric generation from another provider.

Questions about enrollment, programs and billing

Why did I receive a notice from Pioneer Community Energy?

Pioneer wants to ensure customers are informed about Pioneer’s CCA Program, including rates and programs. Pioneer also wants to make sure that all customers are aware of the automatic enrollment in the CCA Program and the customer option to remain with PG&E. Further, State law requires that residents and businesses within the Pioneer service area be notified when they are scheduled to be enrolled in a CCA program. All businesses and residents scheduled to be enrolled will receive two notices during the 60  period before enrollment and two notices after enrollment.

Why am I automatically enrolled?

When the California Legislature authorized CCA programs, it wanted to ensure that all ratepayers would have fair and equal access to the benefits provided by CCA programs. It did not want to give CCA programs the option of providing service only to certain communities or customers. However, the law also provides for customers to have the option to remain with the investor owned utility (PG&E). Customers can also choose to return to PG&E service at a later date.

As part of the Pioneer enrollment notification process, customers will receive at least two notices during the 60-day period prior to the start of Pioneer Community Energy service, and at least two additional notices during the 60-day period after being enrolled with Pioneer. The purpose of these notifications is to provide information to customers about Pioneer’s basic services. These notices also provide information on how to remain with or return to PG&E service.

Which PG&E services and programs remain available to Pioneer Community Energy customers?

PG&E will continue to manage transmission, distribution and delivery electricity, including providing meter reading, billing, and maintenance and outage response services.

Other PG&E services will still be available to Pioneer Community Energy customers including:

  • Energy efficiency rebates
  • California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE)
  • Medical baseline
  • Balanced payment plans (generally only on PG&E delivery charges)
  • Net metering
  • California Solar Initiative and other solar programs,
  • Some demand response programs
  • eBills
  • Automated Payment Services.

Customers should contact Pioneer at (844) YES-PIONEER  or  (844) 937-7466 for questions about specific programs not listed.

Are Pioneer customers still eligible for CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline programs?

Yes. CARE, FERA and Medical Baseline are state programs which provide a discounted rate for electricity to qualifying low-income households. If you’re enrolled in CARE, FERA, or Medical Baseline and start service with Pioneer, your account will remain enrolled in these programs and you will continue to receive your full discount under Pioneer.  New CARE, FERA and Medical Baseline enrollments and re-enrollments must be done by notifying PG&E. Pioneer customers who  enroll  or re-enroll  in CARE, FERA or Medical Baseline will remain Pioneer customers.

Will the California Carbon Credit continue under Pioneer?

Yes. You will continue to receive the California Carbon Credit. Twice a year, utility bills have a statement that says “California is fighting climate change and so can you!  Your bill includes a Climate Credit from a state program to cut carbon pollution while also reducing your energy cost.”

This is a State of California program under the direction of the California Public Utility Commission, and it is applicable for all Community Choice Aggregation customers, including Pioneer customers. The CPUC confirmed that CCA customers are to receive the same California Carbon Credit as do customers receiving electric generation service from PG&E. Find out more at the California Public Utility Commission.

How will I be billed for Pioneer Community Energy service?

Customers who receive their electric supply from Pioneer Community Energy receive a consolidated bill issued by PG&E that includes PG&E’s transmission service charges and Pioneer’s electric generation charges. This is not a double bill or charge. The first page of the consolidated bill shows PG&E charges and Pioneer charges as separate line items along with the total amount due. Details of Pioneer’s electric generation charges appear on a separate page of the bill under the heading Pioneer Community Energy Electric Generation Charges. PG&E collects payments for electric generation on behalf of Pioneer.

Does becoming a Pioneer customer affect my PG&E employee/retiree discount?

PG&E employees/retirees currently receive a discount on the transmission and delivery service portion of their bill.  PG&E employees/retirees who become Pioneer customers will continue to receive their current discount on transmission and delivery, and in addition, they will receive Pioneer’s lower cost for energy.

Will the Budget Billing (formerly Balanced Payment Plan) still available?

You will continue to receive your gas and electric delivery charges from PG&E under the Budget Billing (formerly BPP) program.  However, your electric generation charges from Pioneer will not be included as part of the Budget Billing calculation and will vary from month to month depending on your usage.  Therefore, you may see some variance in your monthly bills.

Are there any PG&E programs which are not available to Pioneer Community Energy customers?

The following options are not available to customers participating in Pioneer:

  • E-RSMART – Residential SmartRate Program
  • AG-ICE – Agricultural Internal Combustion Engine
  • E-SLRP – Scheduled Load Reduction Program
  • E-PDP – Peak Day Pricing
  • Solar Choice

If you are on any of the pricing options listed above, you must request to return to PG&E in order to maintain your pricing election. If you do not notify Pioneer that you wish to remain with PG&E, you will not receive the pricing offered under these rate schedules.

Questions about your choice

Can I remain with or return to PG&E electric generation service?

You may request to remain with PG&E starting 60 days before your account is scheduled to be enrolled with  Pioneer, and any time thereafter. You may do so by calling (844) 937-7466.

Once Pioneer begins service in February 2018, requests to return to PG&E take effect at the end of a customer’s current billing cycle. If a customer requests to return to PG&E less than five days before their next billing cycle, the customer maybe returned to PG&E electric generation service after the next billing cycle, due to the processing time needed for the request. Customers that request to return to PG&E will receive a bill with Pioneer’s final charges.

If I leave Pioneer Community Energy, can I return to Pioneer at a later date?

Yes, a customer who requests to leave Pioneer Community Energy can join Pioneer at a later date. However, if you leave Pioneer after the first 60 days of service, PG&E requires you to remain with PG&E’s bundled service for one year. In order to rejoin Pioneer after leaving, you will need to contact Pioneer Community Energy directly at (844) 937-7466.

Can I return to PG&E after starting service with Pioneer Community Energy?

Yes, you can return to PG&E bundled service at any time. If you leave during the notification period, you can return to PG&E’s bundled service without terms or restrictions.

You also have the right to return to PG&E’s bundled service after the notification period; although you should check with PG&E to see if  charges  apply. See PG&E’s rules for returning to bundled service 60 days or more after enrollment in Pioneer electric generation service which is found on PG&E’s rule #23 document, Section L. If you return to PG&E service, PG&E requires you to remain with PG&E bundled service for at least one year.

Questions on Net Energy Metering

Are there benefits to NEM (solar) customers under Pioneer Community Energy ?

Pioneer supports solar.

Solar Net Energy Meter (NEM) customers will be enrolled into Pioneer Community Energy on or very near their true up date to ensure that NEM customers receive a full year to achieve the  benefit of their true-up under PG&E. The Pioneer Board set Net Surplus Compensation rates on Dec. 11, 2017 at $0.03 per kWh. Solar customers will receive at least two notices during the 60-day period prior to their enrollment in of Pioneer Community Energy service and at least two additional notices during the 60-day period after being enrolled with Pioneer.

More questions about Pioneer

What is the PCIA (Power Charge Indifference Adjustment)?

Pioneer customers will see a Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) charge on their electricity bill. This charge is intended to compensate PG&E for higher cost electric generation it procured on behalf of customers who have migrated to another electric generation provider, such as Pioneer. PG&E adjusts this rate annually with approval of the California Public Utilities Commission. Pioneer rates are set net of PG&E surcharges to Pioneer customers to ensure Pioneer customers’ total rates lower than PG&E rates.

How does the bond financing for Pioneer work?

Pioneer Community Energy has a bond that works like a line of credit. Draws can be made and payments may be made in excess of required minimum payments.  Bond payments are paid solely from revenue generated by the sales of electricity. Pioneer draws only what it needs. The draws made on the line of credit are used for the initial purchases of electricity and operations, until Pioneer receives revenues from the sale of electricity. The maximum amount that can be outstanding at any time is $40 million, and the interest rate on the outstanding balance is 2.65%. Repayment of the bond has been incorporated into Pioneer’s budget. Only revenues from electricity sales can be used to repay the bond. Taxes cannot be used to repay the bond.

Are any taxpayer dollars used to support Pioneer programs?

No, taxpayer dollars are not used to support Pioneer electric generation rates or programs.

What efficiency programs does Pioneer have?

Pioneer does operate the mPOWER Program, a voluntary program that provides financing for energy efficiency improvements and solar installations. The financing, including mPOWER Program costs, is repaid as an additional assessment on mPOWER Program participants’ property tax bills. As a completely voluntary program, only the individuals who use this program, pay for this program.  For more information about mPOWER financing, see www.mPOWERca.org

Does the CCA Program create an expensive government program?

No. The CCA Program is entirely funded by revenues from the sale of electricity rates. The CCA Program does not receive any taxpayer funding, and CCA Program revenues cannot be diverted for non-energy programs. The CCA Program operational costs are low. A small staff and outsourced services  provide the support for operating the CCA Program. Pioneer can keep electricity rates competitive by negotiating the purchase of electricity on behalf of all of its customers and by developing its own resources over time. Further, Pioneer does not fund shareholder dividends and, as a local government agency, it does not pay income taxes, which also helps to lower electricity rates.

Why am I receiving telemarking calls or door-to-door solicitations for Pioneer?

We do not engage in telemarketing or door-to-door solicitations. If you receive an unsolicited call or visit from someone claiming to represent Pioneer, please report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTCcomplaintassistant.gov and Pioneer at customerservice@pioneercommunityenergy.ca.gov.

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