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With SDG&E Rates Potentially Going Up 28 Percent, Customers Speak Out

A sign on SDG&E's headquarters appears in this undated photo.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: A sign on SDG&E's headquarters appears in this undated photo.

San Diego Gas & Electric is asking the California Public Utilities Commission to raise rates by 28 percent over four years. To put that into perspective, the last rate increase was 10 percent over three years.

At Chula Vista City Hall, the CPUC on Thursday heard how the rate hike could affect customers.

"I am against, of course, the increase because I am on a fixed income," said Mary Sanchez, who lives in National City. Sanchez said she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and cannot afford any bill increases.

"What I get from the disability is $600 a month — it’s not even enough to pay my $650 rent that I have to pay on top of the utilities," Sanchez said. "Then to have to be able to afford the cost of my groceries and then my gas to get back and forth to my doctors."

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If the rate increases are approved, a typical SDG&E customer’s bill would go up nearly $14 per month. For businesses, that could be much higher.

"We’re over half a million dollars a year in electric power," said Todd Roberts who is president of Marine Group Boat Works in Chula Vista. He said his business employs around 200 people who repair large ships.

"When (customers) do come to San Diego and we tell them their cost of power is going to be in some cases 50 percent more than the last port they were in — that’s pretty tough for us to attract business," Roberts said.

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SDG&E spokesman Wes Jones said the utility needs the money to safely modernize the power grid.

"When you look at what the grid was 25 years ago, it’s changed a lot," Jones said. "We have electric vehicles now, we have private solar top systems, and all these things are changing (the) grid. And we need to make sure we respond to demands of our customers."

The CPUC is expected to make a final decision on the rate hikes before the end of this year. If approved, they would go into affect starting in January.

The California Public Utilities Commission held it's final public forum on the potential rate increases this week in Chula Vista.

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