June 21, 2024

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California Utilities Commission votes on flat $24 monthly fee – NBC Los Angeles

California Utilities Commission votes on flat $24 monthly fee – NBC Los Angeles

In a radical departure from the way Californians have paid for electricity in the past, a state commission is considering charging ratepayers not just for the electricity they use, but based on their income and privilege to use it.

The five-member California Utilities Commission will vote Thursday on a plan that would require most residents to pay an additional $24 a month, roughly $300 a year, on top of what they use for electricity.

At the same time, “consumption-based” prices will be reduced from 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Southern California Edison, along with Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric, have vigorously defended what it called a “restructuring” of electricity charges.

The utilities assert that funding from the new fixed rate will go toward maintaining the electricity grid, which they say is unfairly borne by too many low-income residents who live in high-use areas.

“People who live in the Central Valley, it’s very hot, and they use air conditioning more than anywhere else in the state.” said Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for the Predictable Energy Coalition, which represents utilities and other groups seeking change. “Right now, these people are paying higher fees that go toward energy conservation.” [power] network. Fixed charges will put electricity consumption in one bucket and these charges will now be separate. “It is a more equitable and just system.”

But while the plan’s supporters insist that what is being proposed is not a rate hike, environmental and tenant rights groups say it will. It leads to an increase in energy bills for those who already use little electricity.

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“People who live in apartments, people who live in smaller units, people who live in urban areas where the home footprint is smaller are going to pay more, this time,” said Loretta Lynch, an environmental lawyer and former president of the PUC.

Gene Engstrom of the California Public Interest Action Group says the new payment system will result in more force being used, not less.

“By increasing bills on low-energy users and lowering bills on high-energy users, it means that high fixed charges will incentivize energy waste, and will discourage energy conservation and rooftop solar,” she said.

Martinez says critics are wrong.

“Customers will still see lower bills if they conserve energy and use less.”

The flat rate fee will not affect customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a municipal utility.