Be Bill Smart


Have you ever wondered how your electricity bill is calculated? How much is spent on the energy you use? What other charges are included? Let's walk through this sample bill from a Portland General Electric customer.

Most utilities will include a fixed “base charge” each month, regardless of the amount of energy used. The base charge funds the utility provider’s costs like maintenance and customer support. In this sample bill, the base charge is $10.50.

Next up is the charge for the energy used. In this sample bill, the PGE customer used 407 kilowatt hours in a month. At 6.35 cents per kWh, that adds up to $25.84 worth of electricity.

In addition to base and use charges, the utility adds a transmission and a distribution charge for getting electricity from the source to your home.

Many utilities like Portland General offer “green energy” options, where all or part of the electricity you pay for comes from renewable resources. This sample customer is signed up for Green Source, a PGE program in which 100% of the electricity purchased comes from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. At an additional 0.80 cents per kWh, it cost this customer just $3.26 to go green.

There may be a number of other regulatory adjustments on your bill, followed by taxes and fees.

In Oregon, electricity customers also pay an additional 84 cents each month, by law, to provide funding for low-income residential customers who can’t afford their utility bill.

Finally, for PGE and Pacificorp customers, a 3% Public Purpose Charge is added. These funds support conservation projects, renewable resources, weatherization for low-income households, and energy efficiency improvements in schools.

Your bill will also provide some context, showing the amount of energy you used during the same period last year, as well as trends over the last year. Knowing when your energy use increases can help you be more mindful about saving energy - and predict the months in which your bill may be higher!

Interested in more info? Contact your utility provider to learn more.