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Consumer Watchdogs Challenge Validity of SDG&E Rate Hike

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A San Diego-based consumer group says San Diego Gas and Electric customers should get a rate reduction instead of a rate hike. SDG&E wants to boost rates by $1.4 billion over six years.

Utility officials say they need the rate hike to pay for rising cost. They dispute the consumer group's conclusion that the company has cooked its books.

The Utility Consumer's Action Network disagrees. Michael Shames says his consultants have reviewed the rate hike request and he says they uncovered numerous incidents of inflated expenses.

Shames : SDG&E’s customers have been subjected to the second highest rates in the country. SDG&E’s profits have been unprecedently high as well. And those two factors sort of militate towards, at least you would think, some degree of decorum of moderation in the most recent rate increase request. But SDG&E would have none of that.

Shames suggests the utility should give its customers a rate reduction instead of a rate hike. Yesterday, consumer advocates working for California utility regulators asked the rate hike request to be reduced by about 70 percent.

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