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Bill to examine new electric charges dies in committee

The Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday rejected a closely watched bill that would have required lawmakers to study and review a controversial new power charge recently approved by the Newsom administration.

Committee members did not discuss their concerns about the bill known as AB 1999 or why they decided to stop the bill.

In a roll call, two Democratic committee members — Timothy Grayson of Concord and Gail Pellerin of Santa Cruz — voted for the bill. The rest of the 15-member committee refused to vote.

Some lawmakers said this week they have received more calls from constituents about the new $24.15-a-month electric rate and AB 1999 than about any other issue.

The state’s Public Utilities Commission, led by Newsom appointees, approved the accusation last week. In exchange for paying these new fees, consumers will receive a lower rate for each kilowatt hour of electricity they use.

The Newsom administration says the new billing structure is necessary to encourage more people to buy electric cars and replace gas appliances in their homes, which would reduce the use of planet-warming fossil fuels.

While California’s electricity rates are already the second highest in the country, the new fees have angered residents across the state.

A coalition of more than 250 consumer groups and other groups protested the new monthly fee, saying millions of Californians who live in apartments or small homes that use little electricity will see their bills rise to subsidize those who consume much more electricity.

They cite a study that found 3.9 million households will pay between $65 and $225 more per year under the new billing structure.

People with solar panels in their homes will also be subject to the monthly fee.

The new fees affect customers of investor-owned electric companies, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. It does not apply to customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power or other municipal utilities.

The Public Utilities Commission says power companies will not receive additional revenue under this change. The amount companies collect on the monthly fee, the commission said, will be equal to what they lose by charging a lower rate for each kilowatt hour.

But critics point out that Newsom’s 2022 bill to begin the process of imposing new monthly fees eliminated the $10 cap on such fees that had been in place since 2013. That 2022 bill was adopted within a reasonable time. matter of days with almost no debate.

In January, Jacqui Irwin, a Democrat from Thousand Oaks, introduced AB 1999 to undo much of Newsom’s 2022 bill.

The bill has encountered a path strewn with pitfalls. Last month, Assembly leaders shut down the bill before it was even heard.

Irwin later amended the bill in an attempt to revive it. The law project passed his first committee hearing Wednesday.

The amended bill would have required a 2028 study of customer bills to determine who paid more or less under the new rate structure. The bill provided that the monthly fees could be repealed if the Legislature felt they were not working the way the public utilities commission wanted.

Irwin’s bill also would have prevented utilities from raising fixed costs above inflation.

California Daily Newspapers

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