Electricity Rate Increases for California Residents

California state regulators passed a new rate structure that will increase most residents’ electricity bills. A plan was unanimously approved by the Public Utilities Commission to raise rates on users who used their electricity more efficiently and give a break to the big energy users. The commission adopted a two-tier price plan for residential customers, with a 25% increase in price for households that use more power.

This new system will increase the rates for about one-third of ratepayers, says the PUC, which is less money and a smaller proportion that what was expected initially. The biggest electricity customers of Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric will see most of the potential rate decrease; although that is not written in stone.

According to the utility companies, the deeply-tiered system resulted in higher-use households paying out more than lower-use household for many years. This meant that low-use households didn’t even have to pay for the cost to supply electricity.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “Modest and moderate consumers of electricity will bear a greater share of costs, while many larger users of electricity will see their bills shrink or increase less rapidly.”

Southern California Edison’s Director of Pricing Design and Research, Russ Garwacki, says the goal is to make things more affordable for the consumers who use more electricity since they are paying a lot more than their fair share. “It’s a matter of fairness”, he says.

Ways to Reduce Electricity Consumption

  1. Turn It Off
    If you are not using something, turn it off. In the span of 5 years, just running a desktop computer 24/7 will use up around $150 worth of electricity. This is almost three times as much than it would be to just turn it off or put it in sleep mode. To be more efficient with electricity, turn off things like devices and lights (TVs, consoles, computers, etc.) when not in use.
  1. Make Use of Sunlight Wisely
    When the heating season arrives, keep your blinds and shades open when it is sunny out to bring in heat and close them at night to conserve the heat you brought in during the day. Close your blinds and shades in the summer months when you are using your AC unit or if you plan on using it later on in the day.
  1. Use Whole House Fans
    You can substitute your air conditioner with a whole house fan most of the year. When you combine your whole house fan with other circulating fans like a ceiling fan, for example, it can offer you acceptable comfort in the summer; even when it’s hot outside. According to Energy.gov, whole house fans provide 30 to 60 air changes an hour for homes depending on the floor plan, climate, etc.
  1. Unplug Appliances
    If you have appliances in your home that you seldom use, unplug them. You can save almost $600 over a 5 year span on your utility bill just by unplugging unused appliances like that extra refrigerator you have in your garage or basement.

These electricity rate increases are the first substantial overhaul in the state in 15 years.