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A proposed decision issued Wednesday (July 1) from the California Public Utilities Commission won't do much to quiet critics who argue that changes to San Diego Gas & Electric rate schedules will hurt low-income consumers and reward energy hogs.

The new decision reverses an earlier one that would have implemented an additional $10 fee to every utility customer's monthly bill before charges to power were added. Remaining intact, however, is a component of the plan that shrinks the total number of rate tiers that provide lower-cost electricity to consumers who use less of it.

The new plan would see steep rate hikes in excess of 20% for lower-use consumers, while those consuming large amounts of energy would see their rates drop as the most expensive rate tiers are eliminated, with a "super-user electric surcharge" applying only to those who use 400% or more of their baseline allowance.

The proposal has been widely panned by detractors, who say that 75 percent of customers would wind up paying more under the new rate structure; they say that those who've worked to conserve energy or install private renewable systems such as rooftop solar will, in effect, be punished.

"The Commission has shown it continues to take orders from the utilities at the expense of the public. The revised decision contains only nominal differences from the original, and continues to punish low energy users, hurt low income families, and discourage conservation," said the Sierra Club's Evan Gillespie on Wednesday in response to the revised ruling.

"The Commission deserves equally bad marks for public process, moving the vote to a holiday weekend when fewer eyes are on the outcome. It’s hard to view this move as anything other than yet another gift to the utilities when nobody's watching."

The new rate changes could take effect within 60 days of the proposed ruling's finalization, which is expected no later than November 1. Complete text of the ruling is available here.

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Comments

Ponzi July 2, 2015 @ 1:35 p.m.

What will happen is low-income households will be picking up a bigger portion of the cost of the utility service. Middle and upper income households will continue to be able to replace low efficiency appliances with newer, Energy Star appliances. They are also the customers of solar power systems installed on their homes. That results in their keeping their bills mostly out of the upper tier. In contrast, the low income households that cannot qualify for, or pay for a solar system, wind up having to pay higher electricity bills. If they live in an apartment, trailer park or Section 8 housing, there is little chance of solar. Because there is no incentive for the landlords to install solar for the residents, only for common area power consumption like lights, pool, laundry rooms. The apartment dwellers pay for their own power, and that's just going to go up in costs squeezing them further.

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CaptD July 3, 2015 @ 2:38 p.m.

Not mentioned above is the fact that all those that seek to install Solar, will now have to pay more for what little Energy they use as compared to the BIG Users that will see their rates drop, at the expense of those in the lowest tiers...

This CPUC decision is nothing different than what the CPUC under Peevey did, make it easier for the Utility to profit, by charging ratepayers ever more for their Energy, which is why SoCal has some of the highest priced Energy in the USA*, despite having so of, if not the best weather!

http://sanonofresafety.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/compareyourelectricrates2012-04.jpg

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eastlaker July 3, 2015 @ 3:50 p.m.

Yes, they are trying to discourage solar from making strides...but I do think that alternate energy sources will continue to strengthen their positions despite the attempts of this worthless bunch of corrupt henchmen.

Feet to the fire is the only way.

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Visduh July 5, 2015 @ 7:30 p.m.

I think the headline writer actually meant "REVERSE Robin Hood." But then, ya' nevah know.

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