Southern California Edison continues to roll out changes to its pricing models, with some new changes coming up next month for high-use customers. “Low-use customers will have to pay a bit more,” said Russell Garwacki, Edison’s director of pricing design and research. “We want to give less of a penalty to high-use consumers.”
Most southern California residents won’t see significant changes to their bill outside cosmetic ones. The current four-tier pricing system customers are used to seeing will be cut to three; a low-, medium-, and high-use system. Customers in the higher bracket can expect an approximately one-percent drop in their bills, while low- and middle-use consumers will see a bump of about three percent.
The forthcoming changes date back to the energy crisis in 2001, to which California responded with a number of policies aimed at helping residents cope. Low-income customers’ rates were frozen, and the difference ended up being passed on to mostly middle-class families — households that use the most energy on average.
After Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 327 in 2013, Edison and other California energy providers changed the way customers were charged. In an attempt to lower the burden being passed on to families, companies were allowed to raise low-income rates to bring them closer to cost level. However, around 30 percent of Edison’s customers use its California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program for low-income residents. Come June, these customers will see almost no change to their bills outside a small increase for high-use households.
In addition to the incremental changes, Garwacki said by 2019 Edison will switch customers over to a “time-of-use” system rather than one in which they pay directly for the amount of energy used. Anyone using electricity during peak hours would be charged more per kilowatt than those using it when it’s cheaper to produce. Garwacki said residents can already use the new pricing system.