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How high is too high for CA electricity rates

Posted by Dorothy Rothrock, on Aug. 29, 2018

When will electric rates be so high that California consumers start to revolt? We may find out sooner than later.

This Friday state legislators could decide to put ratepayers on the hook for billions of dollars in wildfire damages. They have already voted to pass a bill to require 100% renewable energy by 2045. Both decisions will massively increase costs for utility customers, on top of the high rates already in place. Manufacturers and other groups are saying “enough!” and asking legislators to vote down the wildfire bill and asking the Governor to veto the 100% renewable requirement. Neither is necessary and both come with extraordinarily high costs.

California manufacturers already pay electricity rates that are more than 80% higher than the national average and rates will move higher as stringent new emissions-free energy mandates go into effect. We don’t know how high rates will be in the future. We do know that middle class manufacturing jobs will disappear as ever higher electric rates diverts resources from expansions, modernization, wages, and product development.

We need to find ways to improve safety and clean the energy system without loading more costs on the backs of ratepayers. Wildfire liability should be equitably shared between utility shareholders, insurers and ratepayers. Forcing ratepayers to pay all the costs is expensive, short-sighted and unnecessary to keep utilities financially sound. The bill to mandate 100% clean energy is not necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, ironically, could impede our efforts to meet long-term reduction goals by making the program more expensive.

Lawmakers and the Governor have time to push the pause button on these big energy deals, assess what the costs of all mandates will be in the coming years and take steps to protect ratepayers, jobs and the economy. Don’t rush to pass legislation that will be responsible for skyrocketing electric bills.

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