Calif. Residents to See $24 Flat Rate Fee on Electricity Bills

Bo Tefu and Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

Last week, members of the California Public Utilities Commission voted to approve adding a $24.15 flat fee to monthly utility bills starting next year.

On May 9, the California regulators took a unanimous vote in favor of the proposal which also reduced the cost of utilities per kilowatt hour but added the fixed charge to mitigate the loss. The new charge will be based on income with lower-income households paying between $6 to $12. Middle-class to high-income households will be expected to pay the full amount.

CPUC President Alice Reynolds and environmental groups argue that the new rate encourages people to use more clean energy and assist in modernizing the grid.

“We’re marching towards the future we want to see; we want this load growth,” Reynolds said. “One where we can replace gas-guzzling cars on our roads with EVs that run on clean electricity and emit less pollutants,” she added.

Although the fixed charge is supposed to lower the utility bill for residents, opponents of the charge argue that a flat rate increases the monthly bill for middle and high-income households.

California currently operates under a prepaid model and maintenance of the power grid is included in the overall usage rate. But with this new proposal, residents will pay more than double the national average of $11 for electricity.

Cynthia Martinez, a spokesperson for the Predictable Power Coalition, an advocacy group, argued that a flat rate is more equitable and will reduce the cost of utilities for struggling families.

“For people who live in hotter climates, who have no choice but to run their air conditioning more often, they’re paying higher costs that go toward grid upkeep,” Martinez said.

In the past, Democrats stalled plans at the state Capitol to approve the flat fee. All 14 Democrats in the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee abstained from voting during a hearing on the proposal to roll back the flat rate.

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