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Utility bill increases for customers Robert Moreno | Sat, Sep 07 2013 12:00 PM

Now that summer is winding down, get ready to pay more on your utility bill.

San Diego Gas & Electric increased electricity rates for residents and businesses throughout the county at the beginning of the month.

SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan said the average bill increase is 9 percent, but she said rates vary depending on the amount of energy used.

Part of the reason for the rate increase, Donovan said, is a result of the California Public Utilities Commission approving  SDG&E’s general rate case  which is SDG&E’s operating budget for the next two years.

“This (GRC) is supposed to cover the operating budget for all of 2012 to the end of 2015,” Donovan said.
The recent approval of the GRC by the California Public Utilities Commission was delayed, which delayed the utility company from increasing utility bills at the beginning of 2012.

“As a result, the catch-up cost will have a greater impact on bills than they would have had it happened on schedule,”  Donovan said.

Donovan said the bill impact would have been 30 to 50 percent less had it been on schedule.

A GRC is submitted by SDG&E to the commission for review every three or four years.

She said the commission asked SDG&E to impose the price hike on Sept. 1 because it is after the hot summer months.

Donovan said the other reason for the rate bump is because the gas and electric company made electrical system enhancements to its infrastructure.

Not every SDG&E customer will see a rate hike though.  The spokeswoman said about 300,000  residents, or 25 percent of SDG&E customers, will see their utility bill go up.

Low-income customers — those who qualify for a discounted bill — won’t be affected by the increase.

SDG&E breaks down its customers into four tiers. Customers in National City and Chula Vista in the third and fourth tiers are the ones who will see a bill increase.

“If you are able to keep your usage below 435 kWh, then you will not see this increase,” she said.

Tiers are based on the total amount of energy usage. The more energy that is used the higher the tier.

A bill as low as $74 that reflects usage of 350 kWh will now cost an estimated $76. A bill as high as $229 that reflect usage of about 900 kWh will see a $68 increase to $297.

Despite the rate change, there are still ways to save money. The SDG&E website offers energy-saving tips such as replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and suggests buying energy efficient appliances.

The last GRC rate increase came in 2008.

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