PG&E to Launch Pilot Program to Upgrade Service Safety and Reliability for Mobile Home Park Residents
Following a decision by state regulators, PG&E will begin reaching out to owners of master-metered mobile home parks (MHPs) in Northern and Central California for a three-year voluntary pilot program to install new gas and electric service for their residents.
The statewide pilot program, ordered by the California Public Utilities Commission, closely follows a proposal put forward by PG&E last year to upgrade public safety and service reliability by replacing aging energy infrastructure in such communities.
Currently, California utilities provide electric and gas service to a single master meter at many MHPs in their service area--about 1,400 in PG&E's area alone. The gas and electric utility lines, services, and individual meters beyond the master meter are the responsibility of the MHP owners, who may not have the resources or expertise to maintain them properly.
The voluntary pilot program will aim to replace existing MHP gas and electric facilities with new direct utility service to about 10 percent of all spaces in these communities; for PG&E this means about 10,000 individual homes. If the pilot proves successful, the Commission may order a full-scale conversion of all master-metered MHP services to the utilities.
Selection of the pilot participants will be made by the Commission's Safety and Enforcement Division, based on safety and reliability needs, from among those park owners who apply within a 90-day window starting January 1, 2015.
"Over time, many mobile home park owners have struggled to maintain and upgrade their gas and electric infrastructure to meet modern standards for safety and reliability," said Geisha Williams, Executive Vice President for Electric Operations at PG&E. "Many owners face financial constraints and lack utility expertise. We look forward to helping them, and their residents, eliminate potential safety risks and reliability issues by replacing their utility services in a phased and orderly process."
Most master-metered MHP utility systems are 30 to 40 years old, with a few as old as 70 years. In the words of the Commission, "some systems may lack documentation . . . may be operating on a 'grandfathered' basis less stringent that current safety codes, may be incompatible with current utility standards and moreover, may be incapable of delivering power at the levels that contemporary appliances, electronics and vehicles require."
Richard McCann, representing the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, testified that "System conversion from master metered service to direct gas and electric service benefits all stakeholders. Mobile home park owners and residents would benefit from converting the gas and electric service, as well as the associated safety and regulatory obligations, to the investor-owned utilities. Conversions would result in service, safety and cost consistency to residents."
Another important consideration, he added, is that community residents in master metered parks will finally be able to participate in "important state and utility public purpose and load management programs such as low income energy efficiency (LIEE), California Solar Initiative (CSI), advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and demand response activities" that have been off limits since they were not direct utility customers.
The cost of converting MHP gas and electric service to PG&E will be included in distribution rates paid by all distribution customers. However, the impact is expected to be barely noticeable--a rate increase of less than 0.1 percent in 2015.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.