CPUC

AP California News
July 3, 2015 – 3:38 AM EDT
Janie Har
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Big energy users are set to get a break on electricity while more efficient consumers will see their bills rise under a proposal being considered by California regulators.

The state Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote Friday on an overhaul of the way the state’s investor-owned utilities charge for electricity, the first such reform since brownouts roiled the state 15 years ago. Legislators at the time expanded rate-paying tiers from two to four and froze lowest-tier rates to protect households from huge swings in energy bills.

The new proposal calls for a return to two tiers, plus a surcharge for the highest electricity users. The new rate structure would 75 percent of California’s residential customers, or more than 10 million electricity accounts held through Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Utilities have long complained that the steeply-tiered system means higher-use households have unfairly subsidized low-use households for years. They say that the gap has only increased, with low-use households not even paying for the cost of supplying electricity.

“We’re trying to make things more affordable for those upper-use customers because they are paying far more than their share,” says Russ Garwacki, director of pricing design and research at Southern California Edison, which serves 14 million people through 5 million accounts. “It’s a matter of fairness.”

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