PG&E pilot program to upgrade metering at mobile home parks

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Following a decision by state regulators March 13, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will begin reaching out to owners of master-metered mobile home parks 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 mobile home parks 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 mobile home parks owners, who may not have the resources or expertise to maintain them properly.

The voluntary pilot program will aim to replace existing mobile home parks 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 mobile home parks 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.

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.

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