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Electric Bill Increase or Fairer Calif. Power Rates?

Aired 8/30/13 on KPBS News.

A fight is brewing at the state Capitol over legislation that would give the California Public Utilities Commission the ability to set a flat fee of up to $10 a month on electricity bills.

Legislation that could add a flat fee of up to $10 a month on some California electric bills is up for a key committee vote Friday. The measure has support from utilities and consumer groups – but it’s sparking pushback from environmental advocates.

Right now, California electric rates are based on several tiers of usage. So the more energy you use, the more you pay. But because some hot-weather parts of the state use much more power than others, they end up paying more. So Fresno Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea negotiated legislation with utilities and consumer groups that would allow the California Public Utilities Commission to charge everyone a flat fee of up to $10 – thus alleviating some of the pressure on the highest tiers of energy use.

“That’s why the customer charge is important, because it allows for everybody to pay a portion of their fair share, in addition to what we all already do – and that’s pay for the basic cost of generating energy,” Perea said.

But environmental groups said the flat fee would discourage rooftop solar and other energy-saving practices and programs. After all, what's the point in spending all that money up front on solar panels if you'll have to pay the flat fee anyway?

The Sierra Club’s Kathryn Phillips said utilities like PG&E and Southern California Edison have an ulterior motive. “They have a plan to reduce public investment in efficiency and solar. And one way to do that is make it so that you can’t control your bills by investing in your own clean energy and investing in efficiency,” Phillips said.

The measure is one of dozens awaiting action by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | August 30, 2013 at 9:36 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Here we go with another socialist program. Let's take from the people who live near the coast and give to the people who "chose" to live in the desert. Why? Simple, the Demoncrats just can't get enough of their Robin Hood approach, no matter how ridiculous the cause. Transfer of money is their mantra. I have an idea. How about the people who live in Julian start paying $20 a month for the poor people who will lose their beachfront mansions due to the rise of the ocean. Can our politician get any dumber? Unfortunately, they can.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | August 30, 2013 at 2:31 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Discourage renewable energy.

Another harebrained idea from Sacramento. If only once, JUST ONCE, they could come up with something that resembled a logical plan. Not even actual logic, just a far-off hopeful glimmer of it!

Is that too much to ask???

Is the water in Sacramento leaded? Every year our politicians get dumber and dumber. Before long, if they can spell their names, we'll clap and cheer.

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Avatar for user 'wouldneye'

wouldneye | October 9, 2013 at 9:02 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

what can we expect from Sacratamato, the only place that money grows on trees. They spend our hard earned money as if it were water. what they don't spend they give it away. This nanny state will only get worse, Evidently they don't remember what happen the last time they put the CPUC in charge, or most of them are too young to remember. Jerry isn't, they didn't give him the tag Moonbeam for nothing.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 9, 2013 at 10:13 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

How can you encourage reducing consumption if there is no reward for conservation and no penalty for over use? Is it true that they are looking at limiting how much energy you can sell back?

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Avatar for user 'cbretth'

cbretth | October 10, 2013 at 8:56 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

As a consumer that hits the top tear when it gets hot I feel this is just another step toward socialism! Would love to pay less but this is not the way to do it!!!!!

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