Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/20/2011 05:49:46 PM PDT

COLTON – Most people’s electricity bills will drop this summer, despite objections from citizens and utility commissioners who said the new rate structure was rushed and didn’t go far enough.

The City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to adopt a new rate structure for the city-owned electrical utility that will go into effect July 1.

City staff said the plan will lower prices for 94 percent of residences but increase rates for heavy users and some industrial customers.

Several council members stressed that the vote – which still leaves most residents paying more than Southern California Edison customers who use the same amount of power – wouldn’t stop them from finding other ways to cut costs.

“This is a first step,” said Mayor David Zamora, who was elected on a promise to cut utility bills 10percent.

About 70 percent of residences’ monthly bills will decrease by at least 10 percent, staff concluded after analyzing each household’s bill.

That study began April 11 after city utility commissioners rejected the proposal 6-1 partly because they said the plan was insufficiently explained.

The study of electric bills didn’t answer enough questions for Councilwomen Susan Oliva and Dierdre Bennett, who were the only council members to vote against the proposal. Their proposal for a joint meeting in two weeks with the Utility Commission was rejected.

Higher electric rates for some businesses made the plan unacceptable, Bennett said.

“They’re going to pass that (cost) on to you,” she said. “You’re going to pay it as a couple of dollars now (on your electric bill), or later in even higher prices for goods.”

Bennett said at least two businesses – Taco Bell and Arby’s – gave high electrical rates as their reason for leaving the city.

Several business owners said Tuesday they were close to doing the same.

“My doors are shut Sunday through Wednesday,” said Rose Renee De La Rosa-Guerrero, who owns Special Creations by Rose, a flower shop. “My (electrical) bills almost match what my rent is.”

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