November 29, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Power Rate Shift: Utilities Seek To Soak Small Users:

A strong spotlight shines these days on the state Public Utilities Commission as it gets set to rule on how much the state’s biggest utilities will have to pay for their sometimes fatal blunders and how much consumers will be soaked for the negligence of utility executives.

As much as $8 billion over the next decade rides on decisions of the five-member commission, about to rule on the 2010 PG&E gas pipeline explosion that killed eight and destroyed dozens of homes in San Bruno and on the Southern California Edison decisions that caused the premature shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

These are critical cases, but no matter what the commission rules on them, the average electric bill won’t rise by more than a dollar or two per month. A much bigger increase rides on another issue now under much quieter consideration by the same commission, which has for decades favored big companies over small utility customers.

The seemingly arcane question to be decided sometime soon is how many rate tiers should appear on the typical California electricity bill. Tiers have a lot to do with how much customers pay for power, as for decades the rule has been that the more you use, the more you pay for each kilowatt hour.

A typical Edison bill last winter showed up to 314 kilowatt hours costing just over 12 cents each for a total of $40.06, while the top tier of that same bill had 135 kilowatt hours priced at almost 30 cents each, for a total of just over $50. So the price was $10 more for one-third the power in the higher-priced tier.

Now the commission is about to consider a plan by PG&E – yes, the same company under federal criminal indictment over San Bruno – to cut the number of rate tiers from four to two, a move sure to raise the rates of low-usage customers and lower what’s paid by factories, office buildings and other large power users.

This would essentially see people who have cut their power use to conserve energy and fight climate change often paying more for using less. If PG&E wins the new formula it seeks, the same plan will soon come to Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric customers, too. Edison already proposes a such pricing.

A further change, added to raises in raw rates, would cut discounts given to the lowest-usage (read: poorest) customers by as much as 20 percent.

It’s all part of an effort begun by Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea of Fresno to help the big utilities “simplify” their billing. A measure he pushed last year, known as AB 327 and eventually signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, also will soon impose a flat fee of about $5 per month on every electric customer, most likely coming atop what they pay now. This fee will supposedly compensate big power companies for continuing to maintain the state’s electric grid while more and more consumers install rooftop solar panels.

This isn’t big money for most folks, but it is a slight disincentive to install solar, since the savings from it won’t be quite as good as before. Is this really what Brown and other loud advocates of renewable energy want?

It all may be the product of a 2012 legislative conference on Maui, where some lawmakers saw their expenses paid by corporations and/or labor unions. It’s documented that rate restructure was discussed there, and that the Perea bill followed.

If that conference had even the slightest influence on the coming changes, the plane tickets and hotel rooms the businesses and their union workers paid for will turn out to be choice investments.

For these changes would mean billions of dollars in additional revenue each year for the big utilities, lower bills for the state’s biggest energy hogs and higher prices for millions of consumers.

Sadly,all that’s standing between those consumers and the higher expense is the PUC, whose corruption in the San Bruno affair has been thoroughly documented.

in Opinion
Related Posts

A SMa.r.t. Thanksgiving

November 23, 2022

November 23, 2022

SMart has much to be thankful for this year: We are thankful for the courage of all who face death...

SMa.r.t. Column: Renting and Owning. The Santa Monica Long View

November 18, 2022

November 18, 2022

In May, 2020, SMa.r.t. urged the city to consider establishing community land trusts, in which community-owned land is leased at...

SMa.r.t. Column: Santa Monica Housing Development – Poison Pills, Bad Data and the Blame Game

November 11, 2022

November 11, 2022

Prior councils have made long term decisions that have locked the city into an extraordinarily fixed path, the consequences of...

Column – Gas Gougers Beware: California Is Onto You at Last

November 11, 2022

November 11, 2022

By Tom Elias It has taken more than 50 years of on-and-off gasoline price gouging, but at long last California...

Video: Santa Monica College on Measure SMC

November 7, 2022

November 7, 2022

Enjoy this live interview with Measure SMC campaign co-chair Shari Davis in this paid segment.

Video: Santa Monica Police Officers Association on Their Election Endorsments

November 7, 2022

November 7, 2022

Santa Monica Police Officers Association Vice Chair Carlos Madrid joins the Santa Monica Mirror for a paid segment on the...

Santa Monica Mirror 2022 Election Endorsements

November 4, 2022

November 4, 2022

By the Santa Monica Mirror Editorial Board Santa Monica City Council Albin Gielicz  Albin has been involved with the community...

S.M.a.r.t. Election Recommendation

November 4, 2022

November 4, 2022

Editor’s note: The following endorsements should not be attributed to the Santa Monica Mirror. They are the opinion of Santa...

Letter to the Editor Santa Monica Mirror: In Response to Mr. Schwich’s Letter of November 1, 2022

November 3, 2022

November 3, 2022

Mr. Schwich, an employee of the United States Tennis Association, made many serious and disingenuous allegations in his letter to...

Letter to the Editor: Tennis v Pickleball (and the City of Santa Monica)

November 1, 2022

November 1, 2022

In communities both large and small across America, the debate involving tennis and pickleball has become increasingly louder. But in...

Column: Who’s the ‘True’ Democrat in CD-11?

October 30, 2022

October 30, 2022

So who is the true Democrat in this race to succeed Mike Bonin in CD-11? While the campaign for city...

SMa.r.t. Column: Santa Monica’s Pending Apocalypse

October 28, 2022

October 28, 2022

Editor’s note: The following endorsements should not be attributed to the Santa Monica Mirror. They are the opinion of Santa...

Column: Follow the Money This Election Season

October 27, 2022

October 27, 2022

By David G. Brown Earlier this month I read with great interest the coverage of local campaign finance filings and...

Column: Excess School Lands for Teacher Housing?

October 22, 2022

October 22, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Do voters want more teachers living in their communities, even if it means a little more...

SMa.r.t. Column: 4500+ Units Permitted!

October 22, 2022

October 22, 2022

In the last month your City was forced by the State of California to approve the construction of about 16...