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New Monthly Fixed Fee Proposed For Power Bills

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Sacramento, CA — Power companies like PG&E would be allowed to start charging a monthly fixed fee on electric bills, under a proposal that will be voted on today by the California Public Utilities Commission.

For most, it would be $24.15, but it would be smaller, $6-12, for those with lower incomes. In exchange, the price of electricity would drop between 5-7 cents per kilowatt hour. State officials note that the move would theoretically reduce bills during hot summer months when air conditioners are running constantly, but increase rates during other parts of the year when less energy is used. State regulators note that it would also help those who regularly charge electric vehicles. Opponents say it will disincentivize power conservation.

The Associated Press reports that 18 members of Congress from California have joined a coalition calling for the commission to keep the rate low, noting that the national average in other states for fixed electric rates is $11. A bill proposed in the California legislature, going through committees, would cap the charge at $10 per month.