Semper Solaris Blog

We recommend this article: Utilities commission authorizes new revenue Monthly increase in a typical household’s SDG&E bill for gas and electric customers Utility bills will rise in September with approval Thursday of a four-year rate increase totaling more than $500 million for customers of San Diego Gas & Electric Co. A typical household will see monthly gas and electric bills rise about 11 percent to $132.02, up from $118.52, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. The company was granted a 7.6 percent revenue increase starting in 2012. The hike will be collected retroactively, so many bills will rise by more than that percentage to catch up. Now is the perfect time to lock in some energy savings in San Diego. Receive an instant text quote in seconds and see how much you can save on our highest efficiency solar panels.

Sempra Energy executives hope that state regulators will boost a proposed four-year, $723 million rate increase slated for utility customers in San Diego and southern Orange counties. Sempra subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric has urged the California Public Utilities Commission and the lead commissioner in the proceeding, Mark Ferron, to restore several proposed cuts to its revenue requests, applied retroactively to the start of 2012. One key issue is how annual increases are calculated from 2013 to 2015. The state Division of Ratepayer Advocates estimates the SDG&E approach, using a utility-industry index, would add an additional $103 million to rates over the current proposal. SDG&E estimates $41 million is at stake. “We have made our concerns known and we expect, with a better understanding of the facts, most if not all funding will be restored,” Sempra CEO Debra Reed told analysts Thursday. Reed said a proposal to peg annual increases to the Urban Consumer Price Index would be an unfair departure from previous decisions at the utilities commission, while consumer advocates say it’s important to consider what people can afford. The proposed decision would bump up SDG&E revenues retroactively by $140.2 million to $1.75 billion, effective Jan. 1, 2012. That 8.7 percent increase would be applied to bills gradually to ease the impact. Receive an instant text quote in seconds and see how much you can save on our highest efficiency solar panels.

April 1, 2013 (San Diego) – On March 29, a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative law judge proposed that SDG&E be allowed to increase rates for its customers by 7.7%. Ratepayers in San Diego are already paying among the highest utility rates in the nation. View the full decision here. “The people of San Diego need to stand up and speak out against this unjustifiable and unconscionable increase in electricity rates,” said Mike Aguirre, former San Diego City Attorney. Public comments should be sent to ALJ Wong at [email protected] and to the assigned commissioner; a current service list for the proceeding is available at www.cpuc.ca.gov. The proposed decision was issued by Administrative Law Judge John S. Wong, presiding officer in the proceeding. The matter may appear on the full CPUC agenda as soon as 30 days after the ruling. The full Commission may adopt all or part of the decision, modify the decision, or prepare its own decision. SDG&E and SoCal Gas claim their costs are increasing due to new regulations, increased materials cost, new technology and growth to meet new demand, as well as the need replace aging infrastructure. Consumer advocacy groups includint TURN (The Utility Reform Network) and UCAN (Utility Consumers Action Network) and others have opposed the rate hikes. Opponents contend that consumers have had to cut spending in this economy and that SDG&E and SoCal Gas should have to do so, too. The advocacy groups have also questioned the accuracy and methodology of forecasts used by the utility corporations. SDG&E has previously sought to force ratepayers to pay its uninsured liability costs for wildfires caused by its lines, a move the CPUC rejected. Opponents of major wind projects in southern California have long contended that a shift to more wind power sources would ultimately raise rates for utilities, since the technology is costly and hefty rate hikes have occurred elsewhere when utilities have added wind power to their portfolios. Locally, Ocotillo Wind came online in December and several more wind projects are proposed in East County. Receive an instant text quote in seconds and see how much you can save on our highest efficiency solar panels.

Consumer advocates, including the AARP, are saying they can live with a compromise by state regulators on how much San Diego Gas & Electric is authorized to profit from its capital investments on infrastructure. The California Public Utilities Commission late last week approved a 10.1 percent rate of return on common equity for SDG&E during the coming year. That rate is lower than the 11 percent rate sought by the utility serving San Diego and southern Orange counties, but considerably higher than initial recommendations by groups including the American Association of Retired Persons and the state Division of Ratepayer Advocates. “We would like to see it be a little bit lower if you look where the return on equity is relative to other utilities across the United States,” Michael Richard, of AARP California, told the commissioners shortly before the unanimous vote of approval. “But, on balance, we think it is a balanced decision.” The reductions translate into an average utility bill decrease in San Diego of $1.52 on electricity and 16 cents on gas, based on 600 kilowatt hours and 38 therms of consumption, according to commission estimates. For utility investors and ratings agencies, cost of capital proceedings are closely watched as a way to gauge future earnings potential. The proceedings set out to determine reasonable return on equity given current interest rates and risks. Federal executive agencies, a major power customer in the region, wanted further reductions, arguing that capital borrowing costs, as measured by average bond yields, have fallen dramatically since the last time utility return rates were adjusted in 2007. The Division of Ratepayer Advocates, an in-house consumer watchdog at the state utilities commission, also had lobbied for further reductions, but commended the final decision. Morgan Lee • U-T Receive an instant text quote in seconds and see how much you can save on our highest efficiency solar panels.

San Diego Gas & Electric is making a last stand for a plan to recover uninsured costs for the 2007 wildfires from utility customers, appealing to individual state utilities commissioners in several face-to-face meetings this month. What would utility investors pay? Two competing draft decisions would either reject outright SDG&E’s proposal for streamlining cost recovery for recent and future fires or prohibit the utility from including costs, including legal expenses, from the 2007 fires. Instead, the authors suggest, SDG&E should request approval to bill customers using long- standing procedures for major events seen as beyond the control of utility management. SDG&E is asserting that either draft decision, without amendments, would deprive the utility of a fair opportunity to recover costs for conducting business in a fire-prone region, as guaranteed under California law. A vote by the California Public Utilities Commission is scheduled for Thursday but may be delayed. The vote could help determine who ultimately is responsible — utility customers or shareholders — for 2007 wildfire costs currently estimated at $369 million, with roughly 1,750 court claims against the utility still unresolved. Consumer advocates are concerned that the utility’s request would undermine the vetting process that shields customers from unreasonable costs. Timothy Simon, the commissioner overseeing the proceeding, sought to allay those concerns during a wide-ranging discussion Monday in San Francisco involving the commission’s five members, SDG&E representatives and critics of the utility’s plan. “I think that the notion that there is no review … or that it is some type of blank check is clearly unwarranted,” said Simon, who indicated revisions to his draft decision were likely before a full commission vote. Triggered in large part by San Diego Gas & Electric power lines, three wildfires in October 2007 destroyed more than 1,300 homes and killed two people. The final bill is coming due five years after SDG&E exhausted $1.9 billion in insurance and counterclaims against contractors and a cable company linked to the fires’ ignition. SDG&E has pressed its cases with individual members of the San Francisco-based commission. Many critics of the SDG&E proposal have taken advantage of their own right to equal time with commissioners, who are appointed by the current and previous state governor. Commissioner Simon has embraced in principle SDG&E’s proposal for utility customers to pick up 90 percent of uninsured fire costs and legal expenses through the creation of a wildfire expense balancing account. Utility investors would pay the first $10 million and 10 percent thereafter. But the standard would not apply to the 2007 fires, and utility customers could not be charged without a court or commission finding that the utility was not at fault, under Simon’s draft decision. SDG&E has provided its own edition of a draft ruling to commissioners for guidance. Two of California’s four investor-owned utilities — SDG&E and Southern California Gas, both subsidiaries of Sempra Energy — are parties to the application. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric dropped out of the proceeding. Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey has recommended rejecting the SDG&E plan outright, arguing that it would thrust unlimited liability for damages onto utility customers while undermining incentives to reduce wildfire risks. Two state investigations found that SDG&E lines, and to a lesser degree Cox Communications equipment, caused the 2007 fires, which spread quickly under dry conditions and gusting Santa Ana winds. Cox has since paid SDG&E $444 million under a settlement agreement. San Diego Gas & Electric denies it was ever at fault, but it apologized previously for obstructing investigators looking into the root causes. In 2009, SDG&E agreed to pay $14.4 million to the state’s general fund to settle accusations that shoddy maintenance led to the blazes. Receive an instant text quote in seconds and see how much you can save on our highest efficiency solar panels.