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SDG&E To Seek New Ways Around High Summer Bills After CPUC Denial

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 announced Thursday that it will seek new ways to lower monthly bills during summer, after the state Public Utilities Commission denied the company's request to suspend its state-mandated high usage charge.

SDG&E first added the high usage charge to its billing structure in 2017 after the state mandated the utility to encourage residents to lower their energy usage. The charge affects customers who use more than 400% of their base energy allowance in a given month, according to SDG&E.

More than 120,000 SDG&E ratepayers dealt with the high usage charge last year during a particularly warm summer that included multiple heat waves, according to the utility. With CPUC refusing to waive the fee for SDG&E customers, company representatives said they hope to find other ways of saving customers money throughout the summer, possibly by eliminating seasonal pricing.

RELATED: SDG&E To Start New ‘Time Of Use’ Billing System

"Last summer was a challenge for our customers, particularly for people who experienced dramatic increases in their bills due, in part, to the High Usage Charge," said Scott Crider, SDG&E's vice president of customer services. "We heard their concerns and took action to have the HUC removed on their behalf, but unfortunately the CPUC did not approve our request."

Under the company's seasonal pricing structure, electricity prices rise from June to October to account for higher energy use by appliances such as air conditioning units. Getting rid of that structure would also require approval from the CPUC, according to the company.

Residents can avoid the high usage charge by enrolling in one of the company's time-of-use plans, which charge customers more for using energy during peak hours but not for high overall usage. Residents can learn more about and enroll in a time-of-use plan at sdge.com/whenmatters.

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