California Environmental Justice Alliance

Building Healthy Communities from the Ground up

Senate passes bill to raise energy costs for low-income communities

Concerns Remain Over Negative Impacts on Low Income Communities 

Monday, September 9, 2013
Contact:
Strela Cervas, scervas@caleja.org or (213) 284-4923
Refugio Mata, refugio.mata@sierraclub.org or (805) 428-4075

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Senate approved AB 327, a bill pushed forward by the utility lobby and authored by Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno). The proposal will add fixed charges amounting from $10 a month, or $120 annually, to customers of Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Pacific Gas & Electric territories. Customers will not be able to offset the fixed charge on their bills by conserving energy or using rooftop solar.

The bill added important provisions that ensure rooftop solar will continue to play a prominent role in California’s economy and energy mix. However, AB 327 still included the excessive and unnecessary $120 per year fixed charge on energy bills, a provision that will put billions of dollars into the pockets of the utility lobby.

In response, the Sierra Club and the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) issued the following statement:

“This is a harsh blow to working families, who will see higher energy bills in the years ahead. AB 327’s $120 per year on energy bills is a provision that will be difficult for Californians to stomach in this recession, especially low-income communities who are pinching pennies to make ends meet,” said Strela Cervas of the California Environmental Justice Alliance, a statewide coalition of six community-based organizations that represent nearly 15,000 low-income, communities of color. “This will impact low income communities the most, as new costs would fall disproportionately on families living in smaller homes and apartments and penalize those who already do their part by conserving energy.”

“AB 327 is a powerful reminder of the extent to which utilities influence public policy to the benefit of their shareholders and the detriment of working families. It’s disappointing that so many legislators walked away from their constituents’ interest,” said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California. “They’ve now saddled Californians with up to $120 a year in new charges on their electricity bills.”

“Though the bill falls far short, we were nonetheless glad to see AB 327 amended in response to the concerns of thousands of clean energy supporters across California,” said Evan Gillespie, Director of Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign. “While the improvements made to the bill represent good measures for the future of clean energy, there are still significant concerns over the impacts the fixed charge will have on our state’s working families and green economy.”

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