California regulators approve rate cap

San Diego businesses can be charged no more than $220/month for using up to 1500 kw-hr, under a rate cap approved Monday by the California Public Utilities Commission. Similarly, residential customers can be charged no more than $68/month for using up to 500 kw-hr of electricity.


San Diego businesses can be charged no more than $220/month for using up to 1500 kw-hr, under a rate cap approved Monday by the California Public Utilities Commission. Similarly, residential customers can be charged no more than $68/month for using up to 500 kw-hr of electricity.

Consumption in excess of these amounts will cost consumers market rates. The rate only affects Sempra Energy unit San Gas & Electric Co. customers, who have been hurt by volatile prices in a state-sponsored energy auction conducted by the California Power Exchange. The California utility is the first in the state to directly pass costs through to its customers. Other state utilities are scheduled to do the same by March 2002.

The caps for residential customers are effective until January 2001. Businesses rates are capped at $220/month for 1500 kw-hr until January 2001 and $240 through the end of 2001.

In addition, SDG&E must file a transition plan that allows customers to use "level" payment plans. The proposal was adopted after an outcry over rising prices caused a political backlash. Critics argue San Diego consumers could find themselves with a huge unpaid liability when the rate cap ends in 2002.

A separate plan proposed by California Gray Davis which would have imposed an interim rate freeze was defeated 3-2.

California's State Assembly is expected to vote today on a proposal passed by the State Senate to roll back electricity rates to July 1999 levels, which would remain in effect indefinitely. But Gov. Gray has said he does not support a rate freeze or rollback.

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