Utilities’ rate hike request proves Californians need energy choice

As some interest groups and regulators in the state discuss whether to mandate electricity as the sole source of energy in the future for Californians, there are growing signs that such a move would have significant economic ramifications.

That specter of hitting consumers in the pocketbook became increasingly clear last week when three of the state’s primary electricity providers asked the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to hike their rates. The stated reason for the requests from Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) to approve higher profits for their shareholders was to cover the growing costs caused by the risk posed by destructive wildfires.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the three utilities said in their filings that a larger return on equity is necessary to keep attracting investment. Without that, the utilities said they would have trouble securing the necessary funding for future infrastructure projects that increase fire safety and promote renewable energy.

SCE asked the CPUC to increase shareholder returns from 10.3% to 16.6%. Estimates are that will mean an additional $12.20 in monthly charges for residential customers.

Some critics such as former CPUC president Loretta Lynch slammed the request, saying the utilities are “taking advantage of a disaster…in order to profit all the more.”

Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions believes proposals like this dramatize why California needs an energy portfolio that draws on a variety of sources. Doing so not just preserves consumer choice, but also lessens the economic impact on Californians who shouldn’t be forced into the costly replacement of their appliances and have to pay more for the privilege of powering them.

We support clean air and climate policies that reduce emissions and allow consumers to make their own energy choices. We support continued natural gas use and believe renewable gas should be encouraged, just like we encourage renewable electricity.

The availability of natural and renewable gas provides Californians with energy choice, affordability, and reliability for our economic well-being and quality of life. And it has and will continue to contribute to the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the challenges of climate change.

To join the cause and for more information on how you can help, please contact C4BES Executive Director Jon Switalski at (310) 625-4072 or jswitalski@c4bes.org.