Electric bills will have changes: Small changes now, more next year

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Another portion of the electric rate changes the California Public Utilities Commission adopted in July 2015 will be seen on local Southern California Edison bills this month.

SCE’s residential rates moved from four to three tiers on June 1. However, the impacts of this change will be relatively small.

Edison expects residential rates to remain fairly stable through 2017. It has filed an application requesting a 3.5-percent increase for fuel and purchased power.  According to Edison, rates are going up slightly as a result of reduced sales due to distributed generation.

In 2017, customers should expect increases as the three tiers are collapsed again, into two tiers. Also, in 2017 a high-usage surcharge will be imposed on customers who use twice the average amount of electricity per month. The commission created the surcharge to encourage electricity conservation.

In November 2015, the first step in the new rate structure was implemented. At the time, the monthly minimum delivery charge was increased to $10 for many customers.

For SCE customers enrolled in the California Alternate Rates for Energy, Family Electric Rate Assistance or the Medical Baseline programs, the monthly minimum charge is $5, when the actual delivery charge total is less than $5. For all other residential customers, the monthly minimum charge will be $10, only if the actual minimum delivery charge is less than $10.

Protections for the lowest-income customers remain under the CARE program. Nearly one-third of SCE’s 4.3-million residential customers are on the low-income rate where the rates they pay are about one-third lower than those for other customers. California’s low-income rate program provides some of the largest discounts in the country.

This June, low-to mid-usage CARE customers will not see a bill increase; high-usage CARE customers will see a bill increase of about 3 percent in their discounted bill.

SCE’s residential customers will see a benefit through an increase in the California Climate Credit (a line-item credit on their April and October bills of $38, up from $29 in 2015). SCE’s non-residential customers’ rates are about 10 percent lower today than in 2015.

When 2019 begins, customers will have two tiers and rates will be based on time-of-use. Under time-of-use rates, the cost of electricity depends upon the time of day and time of year the energy is being used. A transition of all non-residential customers to time-of-use rates was completed in 2015. While default time-of-use rates are scheduled to take effect in 2019 for residential customers, SCE has already developed time-of-use programs for residential customers. Customers can take a look at those programs and sign up now if they are interested.

SCE has estimated that ultimately, these changes will increase the monthly bill for low-usage customers an average of $1.50 to $2 monthly each year as the changes are phased in over four years. Medium-usage customers will see an average of $2 a month bill increase during the same time period, while high-usage customers will see an average $1.50 to $2 a month decrease during the transitional time.

The new structure is more closely aligned with the actual costs of providing electric service — more electric use will result in higher bills.

Information is available at on.sce.com/rct or customers can call 1-800-798-7723.

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