Consumers Speak Out for Conservation, Against Fixed Charges

At public hearings throughout California, consumers have told to California Public Utilities Commission to reward customers that conserve and reject fixed utility charges. By adding $10 to every customer’s bill, utility companies will in effect give big energy users a break at the expense of those with a smaller carbon footprint.   The proposal will be particularly tough on anyone who is struggling to make ends meet, and will have to take the $10 away from some other essential like medicine or food.  


Consumers are united in opposing the new charges. Sixty people attended the afternoon session in San Francisco with about 35 testifying. Twenty tenant leaders with the Central City SRO Collaborative testified against the $10 monthly charge and reducing the tier differences. The few PG&E-funded nonprofits that testified in favor of PG&E’s rate design proposal were outnumbered 4 to 1 by people in opposition to changes that would raise bills for low-income, solar, and all moderate use customers just so high use customers could get a break.


In Palmdale, local activists Johnathon Ervin and Veronica Fields were responsible for a total of 40 people at the two hearings. Several people who attended also cited the two front-page articles they placed in the days before the hearings in the Antelope Valley Press about the proposed rate design changes.


The 2:00 session had 60 people in attendance.  The 30 or so people who testified against the Edison proposals for fixed monthly charges and tier flattening outnumbered the Edison lackeys by 10 to 1.  At least a third of the people specifically testified in opposition to default Time of Use pricing, citing the difficulties of shutting off their air conditioners during the hottest times of the day.  


Keisha Diago, a disabled Air Force veteran, delivered powerfully emotional testimony about having to return to a dark home after the hearing because her electricity had been shut off. She was told by Edison reps that her electricity would be restored by the time that she arrived home.  What’s more, a locally based solar company pledged to install solar panels at her home at no charge to help reduce her bills.  Turns out that the vice president and co-founder of the solar company, a fierce Latina who prides herself as being a leader, served in the Air Force under Johnathon Ervin a dozen years ago.  


About 30 people attended the 6:30 session.   Edison appeared to have thrown in the towel because not a single person who came in and discretely waved at their public relations staff actually got up to testify.  Every single one of the 20 people who testified opposed the fixed charge and/or the flattened tiers, with about a third also opposing TOU.  At least three local elected officials testified against Edison as well.  


In San Diego, Chico and elsewhere in California, the message from customers is the same: reward conservation, and don’t force new fixed charges on customers. To send your own message to the CPUC, click here.