SDG&E Customers Brace for Utility Rate Hike – Starts Tomorrow

San Diego utility customers are bracing for a rate increase that will boost typical bills by about 11 percent starting Sunday.

Amid September’s often sweltering heat, utility ratepayers who don’t watch their thermostat and energy use closely could see a substantial jump in their bill, consumer groups and utility officials are warning.

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A residential inland customer using 500 kilowatt hours of electricity during summer months can expect to see electricity charges rise 5 percent from $84 to $89, said Stephanie Donovan, a spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric.

A similar customer consuming 1,500 kilowatt hours can expect a 20 percent bill increase, from $375 a month to $452.

State utility regulators granted San Diego Gas & Electric a 7.6 percent rate increase that applies retroactively to the start of 2012. Past-due increases will be applied to bills between Sept. 1 and the end of 2015.

On top of that general rate increase, which exceeds $500 million over a four-year period, utility customers in San Diego and southern Orange counties also will be charged an additional $40 million in annual transmission fees starting Sunday, according to SDG&E.

Further bill increases from commodity costs, some linked to the extended outage and retirement of the San Onofre nuclear plant, are expected later in the year, after SDG&E underbilled customers, Donovan said.

Businesses that sell or lease solar rooftop equipment have seized upon the rate hike as an opportunity to recruit customers, blanketing media with advertisements.

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