California PUC allocates rate increase

After a 1-day delay, the California Public Utilities Commission approved an electric rate structure Tuesday weighted toward business and industrial customers and that charges residential customers more the more power they use. The PUC modified earlier proposals allocating rates increases among classes of customers at California Gov. Gray Davis's urging.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, May 15 -- After a 1-day delay, the California Public Utilities Commission approved an electric rate structure Tuesday weighted toward business and industrial customers and that charges residential customers more the more power they use.

The PUC said the rate increase will raise about $5 billion annually for Southern California Edison Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The rates increases are effective June 1. The PUC raised rates after the two utilities could no longer pay their wholesale power bills. Under California's restructuring scheme, retail rates were frozen, but the utilities paid market prices for wholesale power.

The PUC modified earlier proposals allocating rates increases among classes of customers at California Gov. Gray Davis's urging.

Low-income customers, medical baseline customers, and residential customers using below the 130% of "baseline" usage amounts will not be affected by the rate hike. The baseline ceiling was set in Assembly Bill 1X.

For customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, San Francisco, average monthly bills for residential customers with usage between 130-200% of baseline would increase by an average of $5, or 6% of the total bill.

Residential customers' bills with usage between 200-300% of baseline would increase $22, or 18%. Customers with usage above 300% of the baseline amount have an average increase of $85, or 37%.

Small and medium businesses would go up 4.5 ¢/kw-hr, or from 34-41% for flat rates, or a 45% time-of-use increase. Average industrial rates, which are on time-of-use schedules, would increase 4.1¢/kw-hr, a 49.5% increase. Agricultural user bills would go up 2.9¢/kw-hr or 15% for flat rate customers and 2.2¢/kw-hr or 20% for time-of-use customers.

For residential customers of Southern California Edison (SCE), Rosemead, with usage between 130-200% of baseline the average monthly bill will increase $4, or about 6%%. Customers using between 200-300% of baseline face an average monthly increase of $21, or about 20%.

Customers with heaviest residential usage, who use over 300% of the baseline amount can expect a 37% increase in their monthly bill, or $71. Rates for small and medium businesses will rise 4.1¢/kw-hr for both flat and time-of-use customers, or 36 percent.

Industrial time-of-use rates would go up 4.25¢/kw-hr or 49%. Agricultural users rates will rise 2 ¢/kw-hr for those on a flat rate and 1.8¢/kw-hr for time-of-use customers, or 15% and 20%, respectively.

In response to urging by Davis, agricultural rate increases will be capped at 15% for non-time-of-use customers and at 20% for time-of-use customers, the PUC said.

The rate plan also includes a market rate pilot program for federal government facilities the PUC said "comports with federal policy in support of customers' paying the market cost of wholesale power."

More in Home