CPUC

By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 05/27/15 – 8:52 PM PDT |

Residents in Southern California’s hotter regions would get some relief from the overly high electric rates they’ve been paying under a proposed decision that’s being considered by state regulators, but an alternative proposal would keep rates high.

The California Public Utilities Commission will consider both options and a decision is not expected until the agency’s June 25 meeting at the earliest.

“High-usage customers who have little alternative to using air conditioning have been burdened with paying a disproportionate share of electric costs due to an unfair sharing of costs by low-usage customers for nearly 14 years since the energy crisis of 2001,” said Russ Garwacki, Southern California Edison’s director of pricing, design and research. “This is an attempt to bring the rates more in line with the costs.”

Last year Edison calculated that high-usage customers have collectively been paying about $600 million above their actual cost each year. The skewed rate structure was put in place by the state Legislature to deal with high costs associated with California’s energy crisis.

The proposal to lower rates for high-usage customers comes from two administrative law judges who examined thousands of pages of evidence and heard from scores of witnesses during three weeks of hearings before issuing their proposed decision.

Edison previously proposed a similar two-rate structure that would lower rates for those living in hotter regions like the Antelope Valley, Coachella Valley, Inland Empire and Palm Desert.

Edison estimated last year that its proposed revamp would drop the average monthly bill for heavy electricity users from $187 a month to $168 a month.

Under the newly proposed rate-reduction plan, protections for low-income customers would remain via the CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) program. Nearly a third of Edison’s customers are on a low-income rate that is discounted by about a third.

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