The devil always is in the details.
And, right now, California ratepayers are being squeezed by the devil (in the form of soaring utility rate bills) and the state’s ambitious zero-carbon goals.
In PG&E’s service territory, rate hikes are pounding families like an endless wave of atmospheric rivers. Parents are choosing between buying groceries and keeping the heat on. Others worry about being a paycheck or two away from becoming homeless.
The story is much the same throughout the state. Southern California Gas recently told its customers, “There’s no easy way to put this. January bills are likely to be shockingly high.”
With the U.S. caught in the grip of inflation, residents understand that some things will cost more. But proposed PG&E rate hikes through 2026 total an absurdly high 32%. That’s an unacceptable burden to place on poor and middle-class households.
How High Will Utility Rates Go?
In addition, there’s no telling how high rates will go as California ramps up efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2045. But that’s just one unknown among many facing Golden State residents as they’re mandated over time to swap out natural-gas appliances for electrics and gas-fueled vehicles for zero-emission models.
The question must be asked: Can California’s already strained power grid handle the demand created by having 12.5 million electric cars on the road by 2035?
State officials say that the power grid is up to the challenge — if drivers charge their EVs in off-peak hours and California’s electricity supply is massively bolstered by offshore wind and solar farms.
Pardon our skepticism.
It’s hard to forget what happened after Gov. Pete Wilson and the Legislature deregulated the state’s energy market in 1996. Our leaders said then that deregulation would deliver lower utility rates and better service. It brought blackouts and rapidly escalating prices instead.
It’s a cautionary tale for Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democrat-dominated Legislature, which announced with great fanfare last September that they were enacting the most aggressive climate measures in history.
“We’re cleaning the air we breathe, holding the big polluters accountable, and ushering in a new era for clean energy,” Newsom said. “That’s climate action done the California Way – and we’re not only doubling down, we’re just getting started.”
Tell the Governor, Lawmakers How You Feel
Problem is, the noble effort to accelerate the state’s transition to clean energy has barely started and utility rates are doubling up — not down.
We urge the governor and the Legislature to start getting “big and bold” —as they like to boast — about making utility rates affordable for Californians.
You can leave a comment for the governor’s office at this link.
There are two Valley lawmakers on the state Senate’s Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications. Contact Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) at this link, and Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) at this link.
Make Your Voice Heard
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