SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) today urged the California Public Utilities Commission to reject excessively high fixed utility rates proposed by investor owned utilities. The Commission is in the process of instituting a new income-based fixed rate structure after it was authorized to do so by the passage of Assembly Bill 205, a budget trailer bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022.
Addis sent the following letter to Alice Busching Reynolds, the President of the California Public Utilities Commission:
July 10, 2023
Alice Busching Reynolds, President
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dear President Busching Reynolds,
I’m writing in regard to the implementation of Assembly Bill 205 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). This legislation provides for new fixed charges for residential energy customers on an income-graduated basis.
As you know, the final version of AB 205 was introduced, approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in the span of 96 hours in the waning days of the 2021-22 legislative session. While well-meaning, the contents of the bill are far-reaching on several fronts. The provisions that relate to
fixed energy charges will have profound impacts on residential energy customers of all income brackets. This requires additional scrutiny.
In response to the Governor's approval of AB 205, regulated utilities have submitted fixed charge proposals to the CPUC that are alarming. PG&E has offered a graduated rate schedule that would charge households that make over $180,000 a year a fixed rate of $92 per month on top of charges for electricity usage. San Diego Gas & Electric has proposed a fixed rate of $128 for this same income bracket of households.
Many customers have expressed legitimate concerns that the proposed rate schedules skew toward incredibly high charges on the middle class. There is a vast difference between a household that earns $180,000 and a household that earns $1,000,000. For example, the proposed fixed rates would treat a two- teacher household the same as a billionaire. This is clearly unfair.
I therefore urge the CPUC to reject the proposals it has received from regulated utilities and adjust rate schedules in a way that recognizes the difference between a working class household and a household of true wealth. If the CPUC does not feel that it has the latitude under the provisions of AB 205 to make such changes, I request that you provide guidance to the Legislature and the Newsom Administration about how policymakers can change the law to provide more manageable rates for a broader array of rate payers. While there are merits to an income-graduated rate system, we must spread rates in a way that does not harm the middle class.
I note that the CPUC has until July 1, 2024 to authorize these new fixed charges. There is ample time for reflection and adjustment. It's crucial that we get this right.
Please don't hesitate to contact my Chief of Staff, Jim Evans, at email@example.com or 916-319-2030 with your feedback or questions.
Sincerely, DAWN ADDIS
Assemblymember, 30th District
Dawn Addis was elected to the California State Assembly in 2022 to represent the coastal 30th Assembly District, which includes large portions of San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties and the south-eastern area of Santa Cruz County.
CONTACT: Jim Evans, 916-319-2030