Media Contact: Lauren Bartlett, (626) 302-2255
ROSEMEAD, Calif., July 3, 2015 — Residential customers living in high-temperature areas will receive long-overdue relief from punitive high electric rates under a decision approved today by the California Public Utilities Commission.
“High-usage customers who have little alternative to using air conditioning have been burdened with paying a disproportionate share of electric costs since the energy crisis of 2001,” said Russ Garwacki, Southern California Edison (SCE) director of Pricing Design and Research. “Today’s decision is another positive step toward a more equitable sharing of costs to provide electric services, a process that actually began last year.”
Protections for low-income customers will remain in what is known as the CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) program. Nearly one-third of SCE’s customers are in the program where rates are discounted by about one-third.
Today’s decision creates a transition to a two-tier rate structure and adds a surcharge for extremely high-use customers, which overall, will be less punitive than the high-tiered rates in effect today. Under the decision, the more electricity that customers use, the higher price they will pay.
The current four-rate tiers often result in summer bill spikes, punishing customers for using air conditioning during heat waves. Twenty-five percent of residential customers, often those with larger families, or who live in areas with high summer temperatures, have paid the vast majority of all rate increases since the current rate structure was imposed in 2001. A significant number of these customers are low- to moderate-income families with children or seniors on a fixed income.
The decision also requires implementing default time-of-use rates in 2019. The commission added another phase to the proceeding to study issues related to default time-of-use. SCE and the other investor-owned utilities were ordered to start working on pilot programs.
The commission vote came after three years that included submitting thousands of pages of evidence and three weeks of hearings.
SCE also had requested a fixed charge of up to $10 for non-CARE customers and $5 for CARE customers. Today’s decision postpones consideration of a fixed charge until at least 2019 and after default time-of-use rates have been implemented.
Adopting a new residential rate structure won’t result in a change in the overall amount of money SCE collects or the profit it makes; the issue is allocating costs fairly among customers.
Customers are encouraged to learn about how and when to use energy by going to: on.sce.com/ratechange.
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About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.