California Lawmakers are pushing to dismantle fixed fee that would hike up utility bills
SACRAMENTO, CA – A coalition of California lawmakers led by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin have introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1999, which would repeal a prior bill authorizing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to implement a fixed-charge billing system for residential electricity bills based on household income. Instead, AB 1999 would cap utility fixed charges at $10.
The CPUC’s proposal pairs income-graduated fixed charges with lowered volumetric rates as an attempt to address the disproportionately high energy costs faced by low-income consumers. However, the specific fixed charges presented, some of which could be as high as $128/month, are likely to produce far-reaching negative impacts on energy efficiency, electrification, and overall system costs and reliability.
Edson Perez, California Policy Lead at Advanced Energy United (United), the national business association, issued the following statement:
“Surprising ratepayers with a large fixed fee in their utility bills will set us backward on reaching our clean energy and grid resilience goals. It will punish middle and low-income families who already have low monthly energy usage or who have invested in energy efficiency upgrades or home solar and storage systems. This fee will also discourage additional energy conservation and electrification efforts.
Instead, the state should consider coupling a moderate fixed fee, as AB 1999 proposes, with targeted incentives to help low-income households get access to advanced energy technologies so they, too, have control over their energy costs and can reduce their exposure to volatile electricity prices going forward.
United is working wholeheartedly to support the state’s electrification goals, and we know a fixed fee doesn’t help. We’ll continue to work with policymakers on proven strategies to facilitate ratepayers’ energy transition – things like time of use rates that consumers can use to lower their cost to go electric, while supporting a more nimble, efficient grid that benefits all."
Click here to learn more about Advanced Energy United’s work in California advocating for 100% clean energy.