Reading your Electricity Bill

How to Read Your Southern California Edison (SCE) Bill

Your monthly electricity bill contains information to help you understand your energy use, learn more about special programs, and save money.

The Tiered Rate Plan in most bills rewards you for using less energy so you can save more on your bill. Each month, every household has a set amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to use in each tier. Electricity is available at the lowest cost in Tier1.

As you use more electricity, the price of energy increases as you move into each tier. With the highest tier being the most expensive.

In order to simplify the transition to solar power, you should first understand your electricity bill. Your bill will be slightly different once you energize your solar power system. This page will explain the standard Southern California Edison bill, which is your "pre-solar" bill. To better understand your SCE bill after you have your solar panel system installed.

Page one of Southern California Edison's bill is shown and explained below.

Southern California Edison Bill - Page 1
  •  Total Electricity Used This Month in kWh

This section shows you the number of kilo-Watt-hours (kWh) you used this month. It shows the actual numbers read from your meter. It takes the numbers read this month, and subtracts the numbers read last month. You can think of the numbers on the meter as being analogous to your car mileage counter.

  •  Your Daily Average Electricity Usage (kWh)

This section has the most valuable information, as it shows how your electricity usage trends over the course of a year. Since your electricity use will typically vary from month to month as the seasons change (from air conditioning use, your refrigerator, etc...) it makes sense to compare the current month’s electricity use to that of the same month in prior years to truly give a trend of your conservation efforts.

Edison compares these numbers in both the graph (example above shows March 07', March 08', and March 09'), and in text at the top of the graph (this year, last year, 2 years ago). *Note that March 07' is shown as zero and N/A in the example above due to this customer not having SCE service turned on until 2008.

  • Southern California Edison Bill - Page 2

Page two of Southern California Edison's bill is shown and explained below.

  • Breakdown of All Your Charges

All of the different charges are broken down here. A lot of people wonder what all of these charges are, as they do look fairly confusing. The first of the two main sections, namely "Delivery Charges" has to do with the transmission of the electricity to your house. This includes the upkeep of transmission lines, transformers, sub stations, etc. The second section, "Generation Charges," has to do with the actual generation of electricity. There are many different methods of generation, from coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal.

Each of these sections breaks down costs for each Tier of electricity you fall into. The higher the tier, the more it costs per kWh. To not be confused by all these numbers, it should be understood that they all add up to the current advertised cost per kWh of electricity. In other words, if Edison says it charges twelve cents per kWh in tier one, then all of the charges associated with tier one, in both the delivery and generation sections, will add up to twelve cents per kWh.

  • Detailed Explanations of Your Charges

The information in this section can be interesting in that it shows you where some of the charges come from. These charges are not in addition to what you see on the left, but where some of the money from those charges goes.

The TIER Bar

This bar is found on the bottom of the page shown above. As you already know, Edison charges you more per kWh, the more electricity you use. This method is used to encourage you to conserve power, so you are not charged the higher rates. The shaded part in the example above indicates how much power was used by this customer in that particular month. This customer used all 323kWh allocated for tier one, and 58kWh of tier two. This means that they were charged $0.12 per kWh for the first 323kWh, and $0.14 per kWh for the last 58kWh they used. Typically, with this type of structure, a solar power system would be sized to eliminate the top three most expensive tiers for maximum return on investment.

A Tier 5 Edison Bill

The example below shows an edison customer who used enough electricity to reach tier five. The bill format is the same as the ones shown above. Notice the cost difference! Typically this type of bill is reached with the use of an air conditioning system during the summer.

Read Your SCE Net-Metering Electricity Bill

Once you have a solar power system installed at your property, the format of your electricity bill will change. During the installation process the solar contractor will send in a "net-metering agreement" application to your electric company. Once this agreement is signed off, your bill will now reflect this new year long net-metering contract.

Edison Net Metering Bill - Page 1

Page one of Southern California Edison's Net metering agreement bill is shown and explained below.

  • Electricity  Used This Month

Line one of this section shows what number was read on your meter this month. Line two shows what number was read the previous month. The third line shows line two subtracted from line one, which gives your total energy use for this month, in kilo-watt-hours (kWh). This number will be positive if you used more than your solar power system produced, or negative, if your solar power system produced more than you used.

  • Your Daily Average Electricity Usage

This section is not used to calculate your bill, but to give you a look at your historical energy use over the past year. This allows you to see how your energy use varies from month to month, and is a good way to keep tract of the difference your solar power system makes when you first install it. The example above shows that in March of the previous year, when there was no solar system, this person used 11.91kWh per day of electricity. This year however, the persons average daily electricity use was -3.10kWh with the solar system contribution. This negative number means that they were producing 3kWh more per day than they were consuming!

  •  Cumulative Tracked Energy Total (CTET)

This section tells you what month you are currently in, within your "net-metered year." More importantly, it shows what your cumulative tracked energy total is. This number changes from month to month depending on if you produce more than you use or your use more than you produce. This is shown and explained further in the Edison Bill Page 4 section below.

  • Edison Net Metering Bill - Page 3

This page shows all "non-energy related" charges. This is the absolute minimum your bill can be each month if you were to never use more power than you produce. Non-Energy related charges are those associated with anything other than your actual energy consumption, such as distribution charges. Remember, in a grid-tied solar power system, you are still using power from the grid when you are not producing as much power as you are using, especially at night when your system is off. This minimum monthly fee is essentially for being connected to the grid and allowing your solar system to interact with it.

Edison Net Metering Bill - Page 4

This part of your net metered bill has two important sections.

  • Your New Charges

This section is identical to your regular (pre-solar) edison bill, with the exception of potentially showing negative numbers if you produce more power than you used that month. This is reflected in the example above.

  •  Tally of Your Tracked Energy Charge, Year (net-metered) to Date

So that you know exactly how your bill is adding up (or declining) month to month, this section makes it easy to see how your fairing. The first line shows what your tally was as of last month. The second line is what you earned or owe for the current month, which is added (or subtracted) to the first line. The product of this addition (or subtraction) gives you your current tally for this month and is shown in line three. This amount in line three is what you would have to pay (or what you are owed if you produced more power than you used) if your net metered year ended this month.

In the example above, line one shows the previous month's tracked energy total to be $38.19. Line two shows that you produced more electricity than you used, by an amount of $10.96. Line three shows that your tracked running total is now $27.23, which is last month's running total, $38.19, minus the amount of excess you produced this month, $10.96