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Bill: Electricity rates to vary by usage, region

September 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Where you live could soon affect how much you pay for your power bill. A Fresno lawmaker is proposing a bill that raises electricity rates for residents living in coastal areas compared to those living inland.

It's not exactly a popular piece of legislation along the coast. That's because many of the people who live in the beach cities will likely be seeing higher utility bills.

But people who live in hotter inland areas will see lower utility bills. That's the tradeoff in an assembly bill that's well on its way to becoming law.

If you live in a city where it gets hot, you probably use a lot of electricity to stay cool. So what if you were charged lower utility rates to offset the fact that you live in an area where temperatures soar into triple digits?

But if you live in coastal areas, you don't use much electricity to stay cool. So maybe people who live near the beach should pay more for their electricity.

That's part of the rationale behind a new piece of legislation that would affect millions of Southern California Edison customers.

"Times have changed, the electricity market has changed," said Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno).

Perea wrote Assembly Bill 327, which has already passed the state assembly and the state senate.

"It does create a more fair and balanced system, so that communities who live more inland aren't paying higher energy rates just because of where they live," said Perea. "And so it's important to bring balance back into the system."

The rate increases and decreases would only affect residential customers with SoCal Edison. In a statement urging lawmakers to pass the bill, SoCal Edison said the legislation "will provide relief to higher usage customers who have been bearing almost all cost increases in rates since the energy crisis of 2000-2001."

That's welcome news to SoCal Edison customers who live in the Inland Empire. But people who live along the beach in the South Bay hardly think it's fair.

The bill still needs the governor's signature before becoming law, but he is expected to sign it.

As for the price increases and decreases, the California Public Utilities Commission will make those decisions after conducting some studies.

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