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California utilities commission proposes restructured utility bills. Here's how it could impact you.

How a proposal from California's utilities commission could impact your utility bill
How a proposal from California's utilities commission could impact your utility bill 03:25

SACRAMENTO — The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has a new proposal to lower the cost of your utility bill, but it's causing controversy as opponents are worried it could do the opposite.

What's being proposed is a restructuring of how customers pay utility bills. 

The Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group, says the proposal is a step in the right direction.

"First of all, the rate people pay for usage would be reduced," said Matthew Freedman of the Utility Reform Network.

How will your bill be affected?  

The proposal is for a flat rate of $24.15 a month to pay for infrastructure like wires and transformers.

If passed, customers would see a separate line on their bill for $24.15. However, that doesn't mean your bill would go up. That's because the flat rate would restructure your bill.

Instead of paying those costs as part of your usage rate, it's simply a separate line that will be the same amount each month.

The CPUC says customers' usage rates would be reduced by 5 cents per kilowatt hour.

"For example, a PG&E customer that lives in the Sacramento area, the average customer would see about $1.50 a month net savings on their bills," Freedman said.

Even that flat rate fee could be different for some. Customers enrolled in assistance programs could pay between $6-12.

SMUD in Sacramento County already does have this flat rate, and it's also set at $24.  

What do opponents of the proposal say?

Not everyone is happy about this proposal. In fact, 18 members of Congress sent an opposition letter to the president of the CPUC. Opponents are worried it will disproportionately increase costs for low- and middle-income families.

"The fixed charge will result in maybe about 10% bill savings for many customers, but for very wealthy customers who use a lot of electricity, they will see lots and lots of savings from this that we believe should be focused toward lower-income customers," said Theo Caretto, spokesperson for the California Environmental Justice Alliance.

The CPUC was not available for an interview before the publishing of this story but said, in a statement, that this is also an incentive for people to electrify their homes and move away from gas appliances.

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