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California regulators vote to add fixed charge on people's power bills

Robert Besser
11 May 2024

SACRAMENTO, California: As part of the state's transition to clean energy, California regulators voted this week to make it cheaper for people to charge electric cars and cool their homes in the summer.

However, critics said it will raise prices for people who do not use as much energy.

The California Public Utilities Commission voted to allow the state's major investor-owned utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric, to add a fixed charge to people's power bills each month to help pay for installing and maintaining the equipment necessary to transmit electricity to homes.

For most of the state's residents, the charge will be US$24.15 per month and will take effect starting late in 2025, while others with lower incomes who are enrolled in one of two discount programs will pay either $6 or $12 per month.

The price of electricity will drop by between five cents and seven cents per kilowatt hour in exchange for the new charge.

Instead of burning coal and other fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere, California now generates most of its energy from solar panels, wind turbines, and other environmentally friendly sources.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2022, California accounted for 37 percent of light-duty electric vehicles in the U.S., or some six times more than Florida in second place.

Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said, "We are at a time now when our climate goals are not met by necessarily using less electricity. We need to start using more electricity overall."

Most U.S. states already have fixed monthly utility bill charges to pay for electric grid maintenance and infrastructure.

However, in California, any move that could increase prices raises concerns among consumers and elected officials, as the state's electric rates are among the highest in the country.

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