By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
November 29, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — Almost 5 million Southern California Edison Co. customers in hundreds of cities and communities across the southern, central and coastal parts of the state will be hit with higher electric bills early next year and bigger hikes in each of the following two years.

The decision, which Edison says will add an average of $7 a month to residential bills for the first year, covers Edison’s costs to provide service, which amounts to about half a ratepayer’s bill. Other costs for buying fuel and contracting for power deliveries fluctuate and are passed directly to consumers.

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved new rates, retroactive to the beginning of this year, on Thursday as part of an every-three-years process of reviewing finances at the heavily regulated utility.

The 5% increase for 2012 — providing the Rosemead company with $5.7 billion in revenue — is less than the 16.6% the company had sought. Rates, however, are estimated to rise an additional 6.3% for 2013 and 5.9% in 2014 under the PUC order.

“This decision ensures that SCE is able to invest in smart energy systems, renewables and safety and reliability, while its ratepayers are protected,” PUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon said.

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