By Macy Jenkins

ROCKLIN, Calif. (CBS13) – Placer County residents are getting a new electric provider. In February, Pioneer Community Energy will start providing electricity to current PG&E customers in Rocklin, Lincoln, Loomis, Auburn, and Colfax.

“We were in the dark and we’re not surprised,” said Joe Curiel, who lives in Rocklin.

When he got a flyer from Pioneer Community Energy in the mail, he wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

“But if it’s cheaper, I’m good with it, I guess,” Curiel said

Back in December, Pioneer Energy’s Board approved an electric rate package that lowers rates by 3% for all current PG&E customers. But Pioneer Executive Director Jenine Windeshausen says while the company is committed to lowering rates, it’s also being cautious not to lower them too much in its first year of operation.

“We’re a new entity,” she explained. “We need to be financially sound. We are being conservative.”

In this case, Pioneer Energy is a Community Choice Aggregator or a CCA. It will provide the actual electricity service while the local utility company, PG&E, continues to provide the equipment and respond to service calls.

“The customers will be both pioneer customers and PG&E customers,” Windeshausen said.

The California Public Utilities Commission told CBS13 it has received more applications for CCAs in recent years since the state legislature allowed their creation back in 2002. These businesses offer alternative service and they say it’s cheaper because they don’t pay shareholders, allowing them to pass the savings on to customers.

“I hope it goes to 5%,” Curiel said. “I’d like it to be 30%. We’ll see how it goes!”

Customers can expect to see Pioneer Energy listed on their bills starting in February. The change will take effect automatically, but customers do have the option to opt out and keep PG&E as their provider.

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