Friday, July 3, San Francisco–A scheme approved by the CPUC today will give energy hogs a break at the expense of customers who conserve. Consumer advocates and environmentalists had opposed utility proposals to eliminate conservation rewards and add fixed charges to customers’ bills, regardless of how much they use or whether or not they’ve installed solar panels.
The current system of tiered rates rewards conservation and keeps rates affordable for low to moderate-usage customers. Under today’s decision, rates will be flattened and utilities can demand fixed charges of up to $10.00 per household in future proceedings. Time-based rates will be automatically imposed on customers beginning in 2019. TURN had advocated for consumers to be given a choice before being switched to time based pricing.
“At the last minute, Commissioner Florio’s alternate proposal, which shut the door on fixed charges, was abandoned in favor of rushed revisions to the original proposed decision by President Picker,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “After close to 3 years of legal advocacy, TURN, other parties and the public were shut out, with no opportunity to weigh in on the changes made before the recently scheduled holiday vote today.”
Toney said the Commission, under fire for back-door decision making and its failure to stand up utilities, only looked worse after today’s calamity. “Public opposition to eliminating conservation incentives was loud and clear, as was utility support. In fact, utility executives will receive extra bonuses- paid for by customers- for pushing this scheme through. This is a lose-lose for customers, but business as usual for the CPUC, which has once again done PG&E, Edison and SDG&E’s bidding.”
Toney said TURN is likely to seek reconsideration of the decision.