California Lawmakers Push Back on Proposed Utility Fee Changes
California legislators are fighting back against a proposed utility change that would lower the price for low-income households.
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, California Democrats have joined Republicans in calling the proposed fee changes unfair.
What is the Proposed Fee Change?
The changes revolve around fixed charges, the flat fees in your energy bill that you pay in addition to charges based on your usage.
In 2022, Governor Newsom passed AB 205, an energy that required the California Public Utilities Commission to change fixed charges. The bill hoped to decrease the fees for lower-income households.
Last April, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric announced their proposal, which created an income-based system for fixed charges.
In the proposal, the set fees would be:
- $20-$34 for households making less than $69,000 a year
- $51-$73 for households making between $69,000 to $180,000 a year
- $85-$128 for households making more than $180,000 a year
The companies estimate that it would save low-income families over 20% on average.
Shortly after the group of energy companies released their proposal, Republicans in the State Capitol voiced their opposition.
Senate GOP Leader Brian Jones stated he supported lowering utility costs but disagreed that higher fees and the implementation of a “structured fixed charge system” is the way to accomplish that.
In general, California Republicans argued that it would drive up costs, particularly for the middle class, and discourage residents from saving energy.
However, in a rare act of bipartisanship, many Democrats have joined the Republicans in opposing the changes.
A group of Democratic lawmakers, spearheaded by Thousand Oaks Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, announced new legislation that would cancel the fixed charge mandate. Their reasoning is due to the increased fee costs for middle-class residents.
Additionally, the legislation allows for the California Public Utilities Commission to explore other ways to lower utility costs and decrease fees.
The commission will have until July 1st to decide on the proposed fixed charge changes. In the meantime, we’ll wait and see if Irwin’s legislation goes further than just a proposal.
We’ll make sure to update you on the latest news regarding proposed utility cost changes.
Until then, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline for the latest news in the Greater Los Angeles area.