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California regulators approve flat rate for electric bills, impacting utility companies like PG&E

CPUC approves averaged fixed fee for PG&E customers
CPUC approves averaged fixed fee for PG&E customers 03:29

SACRAMENTO - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved a flat rate for electric bills on Thursday. The flat rate will impact investor-owned utilities like PG&E. 

The flat rate that was passed is $24.15 per month for most customers, but for low-income customers who are on CARE or FERA, it will be $6 or $12, respectively. 

The CPUC said this flat rate is not adding cost to customer's bills, but instead, it is readjusting the structuring of your electric bill to cover costs for infrastructure like wires and transformers. 

Lower-income customer bills will go down from around $0.60-$18.10. Others may be saving about $4.20 but may see an increase of up to $11.50. 

With this flat rate, customer's usage rates will be reduced by five cents per kilowatt hour. This means a decreased bill for large families and those in the hottest climates. 

"Because of this vote, relief is coming to Californians who need it most," said spokesperson for the Predictable Power Coalition Cynthia Martinez. 

Former CPUC President Loretta Lynch said this change will raise the bills of people who do not use a lot of electricity. 

"For the past 50 years, California has had a policy if you use more, you pay more and the PUC has just reversed that policy in large part," said Lynch. 

She is concerned it may cause people to conserve less. 

"It is a fact that that will increase bills on the 4 million households in California that don't use a lot of electricity as is and it's totally uncapped," said Dave Rosenfeld from the Stop the Big Utility Tax Coalition. 

Others we spoke with said it is an incentive to go electric. 

"The extra electricity you need to run those things won't cost as much," said Professor at UC Berkely Haas School of Business Severin Borenstein. 

The change is coming as customers already are getting hit with higher bills. 

PG&E already got the approval for a $34 hike in January, a $5 hike in March, with plans for more hikes to come. 

Protestors gathered outside the CPUC meeting on Thursday demanding the legislature to cap the flat rate so it will not increase.
There is currently legislation that is trying to be pushed that would do just this. 

Others said California should use state funds to lower the cost for customers. 

"When it comes to electricity systems, the legislature says no you pay for it through the electricity bills," said Borenstein. "I think that's a mistake." 

The flat rate will go into effect for PG&E customers in 2026. 

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