ASK FINNEY: Do PG&E customers have to pay for electricity they're not getting, and are solar-powered homes off the hook?

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Saturday, October 12, 2019
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PG&E customers have lots of questions during the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff. In this edition of Ask Finney, we find out if customers still have to pay for electricity they're not receiving, and if homes with solar panels are safe from the outage.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- PG&E customers experiencing power outages know firsthand that these blackouts come at a cost. But some are concerned that their PG&E bill will not reflect the days they go without pulling power. Should consumers document the hours they are without power so they can claim a credit?

7 On Your Side's Michael Finney says this is unnecessary. That is because PG&E does not charge a service fee and then more money for the actual power used. PG&E only bills for the electricity that enters your home via your electric meter. There is no claim to make, because you are not being charged during the power outage.

If you want to be sure of that, locate your meter and see if it is racking up kilowatt hours when your power is shut off. If so, you have a huge problem and should contact PG&E right away.

Other viewers wanted to know if homes with solar power were off the hook.

Contrary to popular belief, most are not. That's because most home systems do not have power storage of their own.

According Solar Technologies and Gotwatts Electric, most solar homeowners use the power grid like one big battery. Their home is still connected to the grid and when the grid goes down, those homes go down too.

There are some home systems that have battery backups; the Tesla PowerWall is probably the most well known. Those storage systems are not cheap, starting at about $12,000 -- and most are not powerful enough to power an entire home.

For the latest stories about PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff go here.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.