Power customers of Southern California Edison could see higher rates next year, but a consumer advocate group is pushing back at what could turn into a $200 annual increase in power bills by 2020.
Taken together, the proposed bumps in rates add up to an amount that Mark Toney of the utility watchdog group TURN says is too much for many customers.
"We think that $17 a month is real money for people struggling to make ends meet these days," Toney said.
The increases would generate $2.2 billion dollars more for Edison by over the three years.
The money is targeted at improving the power grid by enabling the utility to use more energy from clean and renewable sources. About $300 million is dedicated to improving protections of the grid from cyber hackers. The utility plans to replace aging power poles and underground cables and pay for new construction.
The new rates are for customers who are not part of the utility's low-income assistance plan, said Shinjini Menon, who is overseeing the company's rate increase request before the Public Utilities Commmission.
"We definitely try to balance the affordability piece of it," Menon said. "We realize that any increase might be challenging for our customers."
What are the proposed new rates?
For an average customer using about 600 kilowatts of electricity each month, bills will rise:
- 2018 – Increase of 2.74 percent, or about $3.75 per month
- 2019 – Increase of 4.2 percent, or about $5.65 per month
- 2020 – Increase of 5.2 percent, or about $7.29 per month
Before the rates take effect, they have to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission following public hearings at which people can ask questions and share their comments.
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