Why are SDG&E’s rates higher than other California utilities?

A year-over-year review by the Union-Tribune of electricity rate charges by the three investor-owned utilities shows SDG&E’s rates are not only higher than their cohorts but they have also been rising faster. Residential baseline rates during the summer months from June 1 through Oct. 1 have gone up 80.7 percent since January 2014.

. . . State policymakers have directed utilities to find more renewable energy sources. Earlier this month, California enacted SB 100 that requires 60 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 and sets a goal to derive 100 percent from clean-energy by 2045.

SDG&E has been more aggressive than Edison and PG&E in this area, getting about 45 percent of its power from renewables, outpacing Edison (32 percent) and PG&E (33 percent).

“It would make sense that since we are adding a lot more (renewables) to our grid that our rates are going to be a little bit higher than theirs,” Crider said.

The CPUC must approve all revenue requests from utilities and the commission has approved a long list of projects requested by SDG&E (as well as Edison and PG&E).

Critics of the CPUC say too many times commissioners approve multi-million dollar projects and justify them on the grounds they translate into modest additions to a ratepayer’s bill.

“Even if you have one project that only adds a few pennies to each kilowatt-hour, if you approve 10 or 20 of them, it’s obvious the impact is going to be, in aggregate, greater,” said energy expert Gary Ackerman, former executive director of the Western Power Trading Forum, an organization based in Sacramento whose 90 members in the West buy and sell power. “It’s basically becoming a clean energy tax. It satisfies the whims of the politicians because they aren’t the ones paying for it.”

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