CPUC proposes income-based flat rate energy fees

Opponents to the proposal include Asm. Jim Patterson, who argues that it will not actually do anything to address affordability.

California regulators are looking at implementing a flat rate for energy fees to go along with the typical usage rate. 

However, it’s a proposal that has some significant backlash, including from Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno). 


The big picture: Last Wednesday the California Public Utilities Commission laid out the proposal for all large investor-owned utilities, such as PG&E. 

  • The proposal calls for a flat rate to cover infrastructure costs, such as wires and transformers. 
  • That would produce a $24.15 monthly fee on utility bills. 
  • Usage rates would be reduced by five to seven cents per killott hour to account for the flat rate. 

By the numbers: The CPUC said in its proposal that Fresno residents could see major savings during the summer months, with bills going down by $33 during the peak of the summer. 

  • Customers enrolled in the low-income assistance program California Alternate Rates for Energy would have a discounted flat rate of $6 per month. 
  • Customers enrolled in the Family Electric Rate Assistance Program would have their flat rate capped at $12 per month. 

The other side: While the proposal has the support of consumer advocacy group Utility Reform Network, others fear that non-low-income customers and people who have solar would see their bills increase. 

  • KQED reported that Mohit Chhabra, an employee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the average non-low-income customer would see a jump in around $10 per month, with solar customers likely paying up to $20 per month more. 

What we’re watching: The CPUC will vote on the proposal on May 9. 

What they’re saying: Patterson said the income-based fix would ultimately result in higher rates for all Californians. 

  • “I have been warning for a decade as the vice chairman of the Utilities and Energy Committee that the policies of the ruling party, and the complicit decisions of the PUC will create a destabilized and unreliable electricity grid, and huge increases in electricity rates to all Californians,” Patterson said. “Those warnings have now become reality. And this latest PUC action does nothing to address electricity affordability. Rates will still go up substantially over the coming years.” 
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