California moves to reform electricity rates
By Nichola Groom, Reuters
Thu, Sep 12 2013
LOS ANGELES, Sept 12 (Reuters) – California lawmakers on Thursday voted to reform the state’s electricity rate structure, a move aimed at lowering bills for high energy consumers in the state’s sweltering inland regions.
The bill, AB 327, was backed by the state’s three investor-owned utilities: SoCal Edison, PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric. They argued that higher usage customers, many of which are lower to moderate income households, have borne the majority of the state’s electricity rate increases since certain restrictions were introduced amid the California energy crisis 12 years ago.
The reform could ultimately mean that lower energy users such as those living on the coast see higher energy bills….
However, it also authorizes, but does not mandate, the utilities regulator to implement a controversial fixed charge of up to $10 a month for residential customers. Several prominent groups, including the Sierra Club and the California Environmental Justice Alliance, have opposed the bill because of the fixed charge provision, saying it is unfair because it cannot be offset by conserving energy or going solar, and would be an added burden on low income ratepayers.
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Also, more on the potential negative impacts of AB 327 on low income communities,