Elias: Basing Californians’ electricity rates on income unworkable

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The plan would really just discourage new rooftop solar installations and protect big utilities from the Community Choice Aggregation trend,

Now, however, comes the latest bailout effort for California’s three largest electric utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. The three worked together in 2022, lobbying a bill through the Legislature to partially link utility rates with household incomes. They sold their plan as a way to bring equity to power rates, for which low-income families pay about as much as the rich per kilowatt hour used.

The latest plan for the state’s big electric utilities depends completely on those companies’ knowledge of each customer’s income. The four tiers are designed to make consumers pay set fees for being hooked up to the state electric grid, ranging from a low of $15 per month up to $92 monthly. This is the agency that was caught conspiring with SoCal Edison to force consumers to pay the vast majority of the cost for dismantling the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after an Edison blunder disabled it.

The commissioners could ask the state Franchise Tax Board to provide income levels to the companies, despite laws assuring confidentiality. However, even if the tax board could securely turn over the information, there’s no guarantee that utility company employees won’t leak some folks’ information.

 

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