By Pennell Paugh and Miriam Raftery
April 5, 2022 (San Diego) – SDG&E rolled out rate hikes starting January 1 that raised prices around 11% on electricity (7.6% for residential customers), a hike approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. But some consumers have been shocked to find far larger spikes in their bills early this year, a problem compounded by a spike in natural gas prices fueled by cold weather and global supply issues, Voice of San Diego reports.
San Diego County residents are currently paying the highest utility prices in California, fueling budget pressures on consumers already reeling from gasoline price hikes related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as rising prices on other items fueled by inflation.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility providing natural gas and electric energy services to San Diego and southern Orange counties. The CPUC oversees SDG&E and other utilities in the state of California, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies.
The CPUC meets publicly. It is governed by five commissioners, serving staggered six-year terms. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the California State Senate. The current commissioners include:
- President Marybel Batjer
- Genevieve Shiroma
- Darcie L. Houck
- Clifford Rechtschaffen
- Martha Guzman Aceves.
These individuals are empowered to authorize utility rate changes, inhibit anti-competitive activity, prosecute unlawful utility marketing and billing, resolve utility complaints by customers, implement energy efficiency and conservation programs and programs for the low-income and disabled, and more.
What you can do
You can write to the CPUC at: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/consumer-support/file-a-complaint/utility-complaint
You can contact SDG&E at https://www.sdge.com/feedback-form.
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Harvath has called for an audit of SDG&E, after her own utility bill went up by triple digits, CBS 8 reports.
If you are struggling to pay your utility bill, you can visit SDG&E’s MyAccount web portal to make payment arrangements and visit sdge.com/assistance to learn more about their options and assistance programs. To learn how to save on energy bills this winter, visit sdge.com/winter.
Here are tips on saving energy at your home; provided by the Natural Resources Defense Council:
This may also be a good time to consider installing solar. The California Clean Energy Association has information here about the California Power Payback Program, state and federal programs.
San Diego County and some cities locally are now offering community choice alternatives to SDG&E, in hopes of providing lower rates as well as potentially more renewable energy sources. The County of San Diego, and many local cities have all signed on to community choice options. Some cities, such as La Mesa and San Diego, have already begun the transition, while others will be soon. It remains to be seen whether these transitions will reduce energy costs for those shifting to community choice power options or whether competition may impact SDG&E’s rate.
Some local cities, such as Santee and El Cajon, have thus far opted to stay with SDG&E and not offer a community choice alternative for residents. In areas that have made the switch, residents have a right to opt out and remain with SDG&E if they choose. SDG&E continues to maintain lines and equipment, but the community choice alternative organizations are responsible for acquiring power.
See a list of local community choice energy options in SDG&E’s service area here.