Report by CPUC Public Advocates Office Highlights Exorbitant Electricity Rate Increases


By Erol Kilic

On October 26, 2023, the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Public Advocates Office (PAO) published an Electric Rates Report. The report found the rate increases for California households have dramatically outpaced inflation. The rate increases by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) appear to be reflective of increasing external costs, which totaled more than twice the national average of residential electric rates. The report includes three-year (Jan. 2021 to Sept. 2023) and ten-year (Jan. 2014 to Sept. 2023) rate changes for PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E.

For PG&E, rates increased 38% over the three-year period (a monthly bill increase of $52) and 92% over the last ten years. SCE’s rates increased 44% over the previous three years (a monthly bill increase of $62) and increased 89% over the last ten years. SDG&E had the lowest three-year rate increase at 35% (a monthly bill increase of $49), but had the largest rate increase over the last ten years at 105%. Together, the rate increases commonly ranged between $150 to over $200 for residents in California’s major cities.

The report stated the primary drivers of the statewide increases in residential rates were wildfire mitigation costs, transmission and distribution investments, rooftop solar incentives, and higher demand. Further, according to the PAO, these increases threaten the transition to clean energy and electric vehicle adoption.

The report further summarized several upcoming CPUC electric industry decisions. First, a decision on net energy metering (R.20-08-020), to update customer solar compensation for single-family homes in regard to customer solar compensation tariffs. Second, a decision on PG&E’s general rate case (A.21-06-021). Third, a decision on PG&E’s wildfire mitigation and other costs (A.22-12-009), a case in which PG&E requested $412 million from ratepayers to cover expenses incurred in 2021 (PAO recommended a $135 million reduction). Fourth, a Sempra general rate case (A.22-05-015), in which SDG&E requested nearly $3.6 billion from ratepayers annually through 2026 (PAO recommended the CPUC reduce Sempra’s increase by 57% in 2024). Fifth, a decision on a demand flexibility proceeding (R.22-07-005) to decrease bills for low-income customers while creating stronger incentives for households to electrify (an initiative to establish a fixed rate per AB 205 (2022)).


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