What is baseline?

What is a "baseline" of electricity use?

A "baseline" of electricity use is a basic amount of power - in kilowatt hours (kWh) - that meets a significant amount of the "reasonable" energy needs of the average residential ratepayer. The 1976 Warren-Miller Lifeline Act established the baseline statute (CAL PUC Code § 739) in response to the energy price spikes of the late 70s. The baseline statute is meant to provide an energy allowance for basic energy needs at a lower rate and sets baseline amounts between 50-70% of average household consumption.

Does my baseline cost less than other energy I use?

Yes, by state law the baseline quantity must be priced lower on a per kWh basis than other energy you use during the month.

How are baselines determined?

Baselines are usually adjusted every three years during a utility's general rate case.

How many kWh of baseline energy am I entitled to?

This largely depends on where you live. California has a diverse array of climates, and therefore the "reasonable" energy needs of a Californian changes depending on whether they live by the coast, in the mountains or in the Central Valley. Baseline is set between 50-70% of average household consumption within a given climate zone. Baselines also vary by season, with generally smaller amounts in the winter due to decreased need for air conditioning.

Climate zone maps and links to baseline information for each large utility are shown below:


PGE Map 


 SCE Map 



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