Friday, June 10 2022

The next potential rate increase for San Diego Gas and Electric customers could increase bills by more than $18 a month, experts say.

Before the state regulatory agency can enact the hike, however, customers will have a chance to weigh in.

NBC 7 has been reporting for months on high energy bills that have hit many people hard, especially those on fixed incomes. Now, SDG&E plans to raise rates again to “create long-term benefits for future generations,” according to the company.

Every four years, California utility companies are required to file general rate filings; outlining their capital investments and expected costs for operation and maintenance.

If approved, SDG&E proposal – which would not take effect until 2024 – would increase monthly electricity bills by about $9 and $9.60 for monthly natural gas bills.

Some San Diegans are still reeling from a rate increase that took effect in January. That same month, a spike in natural gas prices led to a sharp increase in bills for customers across the county; some paid double or even triple what they usually paid.

“You know, we made a commitment, when we were experiencing higher bills earlier this year, to make sure our customers weren’t surprised,” the senior vice president of customer services and business said. externals, Scott Crider, at NBC 7.

Representatives from the utility company said it plans to invest new revenue in infrastructure to expand and improve electric vehicle charging stations, enhance cybersecurity and reduce wildfire risk.

The California Public Utilities Commission has asked SDG&E to develop these types of projects, which are paid for by additional charges on customer bills. It is a process often criticized.

Ed Lopez is the executive director of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network of San Diego.

“At this point, we strongly believe the balance must now tip in favor of SDG&E customers,” Lopez said.

UCAN plans to intervene on behalf of customers to ensure this proposed rate increase is reasonable, Lopez said.

“San Diego needs to have one or more public hearings, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for customers to come in and say, ‘What’s going on? It’s just not fair,” Lopez said.

SDG&E said its staff had spent a year developing this proposal and were trying to control costs.

“We want our customers to be engaged,” Crider said. “We want UCAN and other consumer groups to be engaged, because at the end of the day, the public utilities commission will ultimately make that decision, and we want to make sure that, you know, we really hear from all sides .”

There is an 18-month process before the CPUC approves any rate increase. Consumers can see this as a civil case: there will be a hearing in about a month, when a judge will establish a procedural timetable. The first public consultation meeting will probably take place in the fall.

The proposed rate increase will affect all customers, whether they obtain electricity from SDG&E or from a Community Choice Aggregation Provider.


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