Time-of-Use Billing in Oregon & Washington?

Time of use billing in Oregon and Washington

Many homeowners dread viewing their electric bills each month, as it often reveals unexpected expenses. This is especially true after a summer heat wave where we all crank our AC units to avoid wilting. Unfortunately, electricity rates often increase over time, sometimes faster than inflation. Some households in Oregon and Washington have been able to lower their electricity bills with time-of-use (TOU) electricity rate plans, but they are not ideal for everyone.

Read on to learn about TOU rates from your utility company, if you can save money with them, and how a solar panel system impacts them.

Paying a bill

What are TOU rates for electricity?

TOU electricity rates vary based on different times of the day, dividing the day into peak, off-peak, and shoulder periods. During peak hours when demand is high, power rates are elevated, encouraging consumers to shift energy-intensive activities to off-peak times. This pricing model aims to promote energy conservation and balance grid usage.

Therefore, adjusting when your household uses power can save money on your electric bills. It also supports a more balanced and sustainable electric grid by helping to avoid huge spikes and dips in electricity demand.

Does my utility offer TOU billing?

Many utility companies in Oregon and Washington offer TOU billing plans, but participation in such plans is optional. However, the availability of TOU rate plans can vary depending on your specific utility provider and the type of service plan you have. 

Some utility companies are piloting TOU rate plans, so the program is only available to a limited number of participants at the moment. If your electric provider doesn’t currently offer TOU rate plans, it may in the near future.

Oregon TOU rate plans

Read on to learn about some of the largest electricity providers in Oregon that offer time-of-use electricity plans. 

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Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD)

EPUD, a consumer-owned electric utility, covers an area of 550 square miles in Lane County, Oregon. Its service extends from Cottage Grove in the south to Coburg in the north, Veneta in the west, and Marcola in the east.

With its Off Peak Advantage plan, rates vary between winter and summer months and by the time of day on weekdays. Weekends have off-peak rates

  • Summer Peak Rates – $0.087 per kWh
  • Winter Peak Rates – $0.15 per kWh
  • Year-Round Off Peak Charge – $0.06 per kWh

Eugene Water and Electric Board

This utility provider covers much of the Eugene/Springfield area and services about 96,000 customers. Although EWEB does experience times of peak energy demand, it doesn’t currently offer TOU rates for electricity. However, EWEB encourages customers to conserve power during peak demand.

The time of peak demand for EWEB customers are:

  • 7 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 9 pm in the winter months
  • 12 pm to 8 pm in the summer months

Although EWEB does source a lot of carbon-free power, it relies more heavily on coal and natural gas for electricity production during times of peak power. Therefore, conserving electricity during these times can help slow climate change. 

Idaho Power

This utility company provides power to some homes in eastern Oregon. Residential customers using more than 800 kWh of electricity can opt into a TOU rate plan. Idaho Power has on-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak rates.

  • Summer Peak Rates – $0.246 per kWh
  • Summer Mid-peak Rates – $0.123 per kWh
  • Summer Off Peak Prices – $0.062 per kWh
  • Non-summer Peak Rates – $0.128
  • Non-summer Off Peak Prices – $0.085

The times of peak energy rates for Idaho Power customers are:

  • 7 pm to 11 pm from Monday through Saturday in the summer months
  • 6 am to 9 am and 5 pm to 8 pm from Monday through Saturday in the non-summer months

Mid-peak electricity rates are available from:

  • 3 pm to 7 pm from Monday through Saturday in the summer months

The schedule for off peak electricity rates is:

  • 11 pm to 3 pm from Monday through Saturday, plus Sundays and holidays in the summer months
  • 9 am to 5 pm and 8 pm to 6 am from Monday through Saturday, plus Sundays and holidays in the non-summer months

You can enroll in a TOU rate plan with Idaho Power online or contact a customer solution advisor at 208-388-5575 or 800-488-6151.

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Pacific Power in Oregon

This electric company serves many urban and rural communities throughout the state of Oregon. 

TOU rate plan costs:

  • On-peak electricity rates: about $0.28 per kWh
  • Off-peak electricity rates: about $0.10 per kWh

On-peak hours are between 5 pm and 9 pm daily. 

Consumers can enroll in a time-of-use plan through Pacific Power by calling 1-888-221-7070, which requires a one-year commitment. 

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Portland General Electric (PGE)

PGE is a prominent utility provider in Oregon, supplying electricity to over a million customers in Portland, Oregon and surrounding areas. As a key player in the Pacific Northwest’s energy landscape, PGE emphasizes sustainability, investing in renewable resources. 

The utility company also offers TOU rates to its customers with three different tiers: on-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak electric rates.

  • On-peak electricity rates: $0.277 per kWh
  • Mid-peak power rates: $0.32 per kWh
  • Off-peak electric rates: $0.052 per kWh

From May through October, on-peak rates are from 3 to 8 pm, mid-peak from 6 am to 3 pm, and 8 pm to 10 pm. Off-peak electricity prices are from 10 pm to 6 am. 

To enroll is a TOU electricity rate plan with Portland General Electric, call 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818

Washington TOU rate plans

Some utilities in Washington state also offer different electricity rates depending on the time of day and season. 

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Pacific Power in Washington

Consumers can enroll in a TOU plan through Pacific Power by calling 1-888-221-7070 and must make a one-year commitment.

  • On-peak electricity rates: about $0.12 per kWh
  • Off-peak electricity rates: about $0.07 per kWh

From October through May, on-peak rates are from 6 to 8 am and 4 to 10 pm. In the summer, from June through September, on-peak hours are between 2 and 10 pm.

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Puget Sound Energy (PSE)

PSE recently launched a TOU pilot program that allows a limited number of households to enroll. Although open enrollment has ended, some residential customers can still enroll in a TOU rate plan if there is still availability. PSE expects to have electric customers after the pilot program ends.

Peak electricity rates are usually from 7 am to 10 am and 5 to 8 pm on weekdays.

Solar Installation

TOU Rates and Solar Panels

Time-of-use rates can potentially increase savings from rooftop solar panels. However, the interaction between TOU rates and solar panels depends on when your solar system generates the most electricity and when electricity rates are highest in your area. 

The TOU rate plan schedule more closely aligns with solar energy production in some areas compared to others. However, having a solar battery makes it easier to supply surplus solar energy to the electricity grid during peak energy rates. 

Peak Solar Production and Peak Rates

Solar panels typically generate the most electricity during daylight hours when the sun is shining, which often coincides with peak or mid-peak demand periods. If your solar panels produce more electricity during peak periods, you can offset higher electricity rates, increasing savings. By generating your electricity with solar panels during these peak periods, you can offset the need to purchase electricity at higher rates, maximizing your electricity bill savings.

It’s essential to consider local utility policies, regulations, and the specific TOU rate structure in your area. Additionally, factors such as your energy consumption patterns, solar panel system size, and potential for energy storage should be taken into account when assessing the impact of TOU rates on savings from solar panels. 

The best way to determine your electricity bill savings is by contacting Smart Solar Energy to conduct a solar energy audit of your home. We are a residential solar installer servicing Oregon and Washington, and have extensive experience helping homeowners reduce energy bills with clean solar energy.

What is the cost of electricity in Oregon?

The average cost of residential electricity in Oregon is 12.95 cents per kWh as of November 2023 and was 11.51 cents per kWh in November 2022, according to the Energy Information Administration. However, electricity prices can vary based on factors such as the type of consumer (residential, commercial, industrial), the utility provider, and even the time of day. 

What is the cost of electricity in Washington?

The average cost per kWh of residential electricity in Washington state is 11.08 cents per kWh as of November 2023. Electricity rates have increased from 10.34 cents per kWh in November 2022. But, electricity rates across Washington vary by the type of account, electricity provider, and possibly the time of day.

How can I shift my energy use with a TOU rate plan?

The best way to save on your power bills with a TOU electricity plan is to shift your energy use to off-peak hours. Use a smart thermostat on your heating and cooling system, install a timer on your water heater, use the delay function on washing machines and dishwashers, and charge electric vehicles overnight.

Can I save money with TOU billing?

TOU electricity rate plans can help you save money on your energy bills, but it can cause them to increase for some households. The extent of electricity bill savings depends on your home energy usage patterns and lifestyle. Here are some factors to consider:

Home Energy Usage Patterns

If you can shift a significant portion of your electricity usage to off-peak hours, you may benefit from lower rates. This often involves doing energy-intensive tasks like laundry, cooking, or running appliances during times when electricity rates are lower, which is often overnight. This can be really difficult for some households but not for others.

Electric car charging

Flexibility in Home Electricity Usage

TOU rate plans are more advantageous for households with flexibility in when they use electricity, or for people who are often not home during peak energy rates. You may see power bill savings if you can adjust your routine to align with lower-rate periods.

Seasonal Variations

Most TOU plans in Oregon and Washington state also have different rates for different seasons. Understanding these variations and adapting your usage accordingly can contribute to savings. Likewise, the type of heating system you have will impact your home electricity use patterns throughout the year. 

Home Heating With Electricity

Many Oregon and Washington homes use electric heating systems, so home energy use often increases in the coldest months of the year. This is especially true during winter cold snaps. However, many homeowners with TOU rate plans use smart thermostats to decrease heating demands during times of peak energy rates.

Smart Technology and Automation

Smart devices and home automation systems can help you schedule and control energy usage more effectively, making it easier to take advantage of TOU rates. For example, electric car drivers can schedule their vehicles to charge at night when rates are lower. Smart water heaters give households more control over their energy use patterns, and homeowners can turn them down during times of peak energy rates. 

Before opting for a TOU plan with your electric utility, carefully review the terms and conditions and the rate structure to ensure it aligns with your lifestyle and habits. Additionally, monitor your usage regularly to gauge the impact of the time-of-use billing on your overall electricity costs.

Installing a rooftop solar system is another excellent way to reduce your home energy bills. The Smart Solar Energy team has helped hundreds of homeowners virtually eliminate their monthly electric bills by using renewable energy.

Contact us today to get started!

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