December 2014 Bill Inserts

Each month, PG&E offers important information on rebates, saving energy and safety in printed inserts that accompany your bill. Now, access this information online whenever you wish.

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Care Rate Reform

At PG&E, we know even small changes in electric costs can make a big difference for our customers. That's why we're here to help with easy ways to save energy and money.

Step 1: Put our energy savings programs to work for you.

Enroll in our voluntary SmartRate™ Plan for significant summertime savings.

Consider our Energy Savings Assistance Program to get new energy-efficient appliances at no cost.*

Step 2: Take advantage of easy home energy savings tips.

Reduce your costs even more with small do-it-yourself steps that can make a big difference.

  • Run full washer/dryer loads, and clean the lint from the dryer after every load. You could save up to $34 per year.
  • When you leave the house during winter, set the thermostat to 56°F. Turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can save you 5 to 15 percent a year on heating.
  • Cut shower time in half to reduce your water heating cost by 33 percent.

Step 3: Explore other ways PG&E can help you manage energy costs.

Energy rates are being adjusted, which means your bill is likely to increase. As a CARE participant, you'll continue to receive a substantial discount of at least 30 percent.**

Learn more ways to save energy and money.

*Furnace and water heater repair or replacement may be available to eligible homeowners when PG&E determines existing natural gas units are inoperative or unsafe.
**30 percent or more savings for gas and electric customers; 20 percent or more savings for gas-only customers.

Questions have been raised about the possible health effects of 60-hertz (power frequency) electric and magnetic fields (EMF*), which are found wherever you have electric power. This insert contains information that will help you understand the EMF issue, plus practical tips you can use to reduce your exposure at home and at work.

Campos Eléctricos y Magnéticos (EMF, por sus siglas en inglés): Si desea recibir información en español, comuníquese con Pacific Gas and Electric Company al 1-800-660-6789.

Can EMF Harm Your Health?
Electric and magnetic fields are present wherever electricity flows—around appliances and power lines, and in offices, schools and homes. Many researchers believe that if there is a risk of adverse health effects from usual residential exposures to EMF, it is probably just at the detection limit of human health studies; nonetheless, the possible risk warrants further investigation. The varying results from epidemiological studies, which looked at estimated EMF exposures and childhood leukemia, are consistent with a weak link. Laboratory studies, including studies investigating a possible mechanism for health effects (mechanistic studies), provide little or no evidence to support this weak link.

The results from many research studies have been evaluated by international, national and California EMF research programs to determine whether EMF poses any health risk. Given the uncertainty of the issue, the medical and scientific communities have been unable to conclude that usual residential exposures to EMF cause health effects, or to establish any standard or level of residential exposure that is known to be either safe or harmful. These conclusions remain unchanged by recent studies.

*The term EMF in this publication refers to extremely low frequency (ELF) 60-hertz electric and magnetic fields associated with power delivered by electric utilities. It does not refer to radio frequency (RF) waves associated with wireless communications such as cell phones.

World Health Organization Findings
The World Health Organization (WHO) completed a review of the potential health implications of extremely low frequency (ELF) EMF, which includes power-frequency fields. Their conclusions and recommendations were presented in June 2007 in a report known as the Extremely Low Frequency Fields, Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No. 238.

The WHO report concluded that evidence for a link between ELF magnetic fields and childhood leukemia “is not strong enough to be considered causal but sufficiently strong to remain a concern.” “Virtually all of the laboratory evidence and the mechanistic evidence fail to support” this reported association. For all other diseases, there is inadequate or no evidence of health effects at low exposure levels.

The report emphasized that, given the weakness of the evidence for health effects, the health benefits of exposure reduction are unclear and adopting policies based on arbitrary low exposure limits is not warranted. In light of this situation, WHO made these and other recommendations:

  • National authorities should implement communication programs with all stakeholders to enable informed decision-making, including how individuals can reduce their own exposure.
  • Policy makers and community planners should implement very low-cost measures to reduce exposures when constructing new facilities and designing new equipment, including appliances.
  • Policy makers should establish guidelines for ELF field exposure for both the general public and workers. The best source of guidance for both exposure levels and the principles of scientific review are the international guidelines.
  • Government and industry should promote research to reduce the uncertainty of the scientific evidence on the health effects of ELF field exposure. Several recommended research projects are already under way through the Electric Power Research Institute, of which Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is a member.

To view the full report and a fact sheet summarizing it, visit www.who.int/peh-emf and click on EMF publications & information resources.

EMF Chart

What You Can Do
In a situation of scientific uncertainty and public concern, WHO recommended that utilities explore "very low-cost" ways to reduce EMF exposure from new or upgraded facilities. PG&E and other California public utilities have been pursuing no-cost and low-cost measures to reduce EMF levels from new utility transmission lines and substation projects. You, too, may want to take no-cost and low-cost measures to reduce your EMF exposure at home and at work.

Human studies have not produced a consensus about any health benefits from changing the way people use electric appliances. However, if you feel reducing your EMF exposure would be beneficial, you can increase your distance from electric appliances and limit the amount of time you use appliances at home or at work.

For instance, you can place phone answering machines and electric clocks away from the head of your bed. Increasing your distance from these and other appliances such as televisions, computer monitors and microwave ovens can reduce your EMF exposure.

You can also reduce your EMF exposure by limiting the time you spend using personal appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, heating pads and electric blankets. You may also want to limit the time you spend using electric cooking appliances.

You can locate the sources of EMF in your work environment, and spend break time in lower-field areas.

It is not known whether such actions will have any impact on your health.

For More Information
Call PG&E for a free information package or home or business measurements at 1-800-743-5000.

Additional information is also available at these links:
World Health Organization International EMF Project:
Visit www.who.int/peh-emf for EMF information, including fact sheets, research completed and scientific journal articles.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:
Visit www.niehs.nih.gov/health and click on Brochures & Fact Sheets, then select EMFs in English or Spanish.

California Department of Health Services:
Visit www.ehib.org/emf

California Public Utilities Commission:
Visit www.cpuc.ca.gov and enter "EMF Actions" in the Search box.

Reviewed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

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