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Southern California Edison Adding Flat Rate for Low-Energy Users

- File Photo by Terry Miller
– File Photo by Terry Miller

By Nick Kipley

On their website, Southern California Edison gives a reason for the recent plan to restructure their rates over the next few years.

SoCal Edison claims that they will restructure their rates so that those who don’t pay much on their energy bills now will have to pay a flat rate, because their customers who use quite a lot of energy actually offset those who do not use much energy at all. This, they claim, isn’t fair to those who use lots of energy.

Their official reasoning is as follows: “For many years high-usage customers have subsidized low-usage customers. With these changes, costs will be more evenly spread among all customers.”

Of course, one could argue that by forcing customers who use very little energy to pay a flat fee, they are essentially paying in part for the whole complicated infrastructure that delivers the electricity to their door in the first place—and one could argue the same about the taxes embedded in a gallon of gas. Unfortunately, rather than say this outright, SoCal Edison chooses to embed their reasoning in an example that doesn’t make much sense at all, claiming that “this allows for a more equitable recovery of ‘fixed’ costs through fixed charges, and will include a reduction in the price charged per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. That should help avoid some of the bill volatility some customers experience during hot weather.” This means that the future “minimum” electric bill will be $10 per month, and $5 for low-income households.

In other words, if you can only stir the air in your small studio apartment during a heat wave by means of a weak oscillating fan, you might as well invest in a pawn-shop window A/C unit given the fact that the guy who has to cool down his 7,000 square-foot hillside villa no longer has to “pay” for your energy expenses.

Which is fair, if you think about it: you now get to re-budget for ten bucks a month worth of cold air.

In a vague conclusion, SoCal Edison states: “If our proposal is adopted, residential customers would see bill increases or decreases depending upon their monthly usage levels, their rate plan, and other changes in our authorized cost recovery.”

Which ultimately hardly makes a claim whatsoever given what they’re suggesting is that if you use less energy you get to pay less, until you are hardly using any energy whatsoever, and then you get to pay $10.

The reasoning behind all of this comes apparently form how energy is “changing,” or, from the fact that SoCal Solar Power Stations produce their maximum output at around noon, whereas SoCal wind farms produce most of their energy at night.

It may also come from the fact that if you’re one of the people who can’t afford air conditioning and are worried that an eventual $10 flat rate energy bill might throw off your carefully balanced budget, then you’re probably a person who is too exhausted or working possibly one too many jobs to stand on the shadeless July sidewalk and picket a downtown utilities company. Which sort of makes it the perfect amount of money for SoCal Edison to charge such a customer for trying to get away with conserving electricity to begin with.

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