- FIXED CHARGES PROPOSAL REWARDS ENERGY HOGS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE REST OF US
- WITH THE ALISO CANYON DEBACLE THREATENING RELIABILITY, IT HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT TO ENCOURAGE CONSERVATION
The methane leak at Aliso Canyon was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. So you might think Sempra, the parent corporation of SoCal Gas, would want to turn all its attention to safety. You’d be wrong. Even as the residents of Porter Ranch are cleaning up from the noxious leak, SoCal Gas is pushing to impose higher fixed charges on gas customers and for authorization to impose those same high charges on customers of San Diego Gas and Electric. That may create more dependable revenue for the corporation and lower bills for the largest residential customers, but it will be on the backs of the customers who least deserve it and can least afford it.
TURN has always opposed fixed charges, which fly in the face of our state’s conservation goals. The tiered rates we have now reward conservation by charging the a lower rate for basic usage, and a higher rate for higher usage, which tends to be concentrated in wealthy areas. But energy hogs actually get lower bills when fixed charges go up. And customers who are working hard to save energy and may be struggling financially get hit with higher bills. Under the Sempra approach, most customers will see increased bills!
In this case, Sempra’s demand for a $10 monthly charge for SDG&E customers would have especially severe impacts. Fully half of all residential customers will see their monthly bills go up about 10% if Sempra wins, including customers who qualify for low-income rates. Customers living in apartments and other multi-family dwellings would have it worst of all, as they would see even more drastic increases.
The proposal adds insult to injury for SoCal Gas customers, who are already paying a customer charge that would be doubled to $10 a month, further adversely impacting customers who conserve, especially vulnerable ones.
That’s not all Sempra has in store for beleaguered customers. Further damage would be inflicted if the CPUC allows Sempra to change to the “tiers” that award conservation. With fears of new gas and electricity shortages due to the Aliso Canyon debacle, the message Sempra should be sending is that conservation and safety are the top priorities.
Utilities and their corporate parents love fixed charges, which mean their profits will be even more assured than before, regardless of usage. But fixed charges reduce customer control, and undercut the conservation price signal. With the Aliso Canyon debacle raising concerns about electric reliability, the signals Sempra should be sending to customers are that conservation is more essential than ever before, and it will be rewarded, not punished. And the utilities’ focus should be on promoting safety in their operations, not shifting rates to lower bills for their biggest residential customers.
The CPUC is supposed to consider customer impacts before approving these charges. That gives us an opportunity to stop this scheme NOW.
Take Action NOW: Tell the CPUC: Reward conservation, not energy hogs!