4 new bills surface to extend public goods charge on utility bills

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Sept. 2, 2011 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In the last two weeks of this year’ legislative season, four new bills on extending the Public Goods Charge (PGC) on utility bills have surfaced. SBx1 28 (Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima) and SBx1 29 (Darrell Steinberg, Speaker pro Tempore, D-Sacramento) were introduced in the special session on the budget, never officially closed down, allowing waiver of deadline and hearing rules as urgent measures. SB 870 (Padilla) and AB 724 (Steve Bradford, D-Inglewood) are bills gutted of previous subjects and amended with PGC language.

CMTA opposes extension of the PGC, a multi-billion dollar tax on utility ratepayers, beyond its expiration date at the end of this year. The PGC began in 1996 as part of electric industry restructuring to fund energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy research.

Industrial rates in California are already 50 percent higher than the rest of the country. There is no need for this PGC tax to fund renewables or subsidize research. Energy providers must meet an aggressive renewable portfolio standard and reduce greenhouse gas emissions under AB 32. Outside the PGC there are programs designed to promote investment and research in clean technology.

This tax on ratepayers could be diverted to unrelated social programs and turn ratepayers into a new source of funding to solve state budget problems.  Ratepayers should only be required to pay legitimate fees or rates as approved by the CPUC and local municipal utility boards. These fees and rates should have to meet “ratepayer benefit” tests.

Customers of Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric now pay $365 million per year for the PGC.

Extension of the PGC is unnecessary, risky and expensive.

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