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San Diego’s 12 percent rate hike surges interest in solar Special To The Star-news | Sat, Jul 20 2013 12:00 PM

(SAN DIEGO) Last month,the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved an energy rate increases requested by San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). The increase will roll out September 1, 2013, a day that ushers in one of the hottest months of the year.

The impact is significant: San Diego homeowners can expect to see their electricity bills skyrocket by up to 12 percent. Some customers will be paying hundreds of dollars more per year for the same level of usage. The increase will be more than the stated 12 percent for some bill payers temporarily because the increase was requested in 2012, and approval was delayed – making this a retroactive collection.

“The bigger bills will not only hurt ratepayers, but are a reminder of SDG&E’s stranglehold on the local energy market,” says utility skeptic County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “Consumers need more choices on where and how they get their energy so they’re not at the mercy of the utility giant every time it wants to boost its bottom line.”

The increase has resulted in a surge of interest in alternative options, most notably, residential solar power systems. By adopting solar power, homeowners can protect themselves from future rate hikes by locking in the rates that are lower than the utility. As the cost of electricity continues to grow, those producing their own power with solar will see their savings grow. San Diego is the solar capital of the nation, and solar experts are seeing the demand for solar energy go up with the recent rate hike announcement.

“We’ve seen a significant spike in business,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, one of the nations leading renewable energy companies, based out of San Diego, “Residents in our region currently pay the highest electricity rates in the continental United States, only surpassed by Hawaii.”

No wonder San Diego is the solar capital of the nation. San Diego has more solar rooftops and more capacity installed than any other city in the nation. The popularity of solar energy has grown because the technology allows homeowners to cut down their high rates and maintain a more affordable cost of energy.

Sullivan says that solar is most financially attractive for property owners that spend more than $100 per month on their electric bill. In most cases, the abundant resource of solar power instantly saves homeowners cash each month.

Typical residential property owners see a full return on their investment in just five to nine years.

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