California Electricity Rates To Undergo Biggest Change In 15 Years

by David R. Baker and Hamed Aleaziz, The San Francisco Chronicle

electric_meter-bannercrop-smThe California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to narrow the gap between prices paid by people who use very little electricity and those who consume more. Over time, that gap has grown so wide that the most efficient Californians now pay less for electricity than the utilities spend supplying it to them.

California has long charged utility customers higher prices for using large amounts of electricity as a way to encourage conservation. And while the commission’s vote will benefit many homeowners who use more than average, the biggest energy “hogs” now will face a new penalty, a “super-user electric surcharge” designed to prod them to conserve.

In addition, most residential customers will soon pay different prices for electricity use at different times of day, with the highest prices likely hitting in the afternoon. The move, long studied by California officials, could reduce the strain on the state’s power grid when electricity demand reaches its daily, late-afternoon peak.

Shifting some electricity use to midday or the evening, in turn, could help the state integrate more solar and wind power into the energy mix.

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