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New Income-Based Fees Proposed by PG&E

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Here’s a curveball for Bay Area residents.. brace yourselves for an overhaul in your electricity bills. According to recent reports, some households in the area might end up paying more for electricity in the coming years. A new proposal would require households to report their incomes and pay a fixed rate based on how much they earn.

The masterminds behind this plan are none other than PG&E. PG&E proposed the new fixed-rate structure to the state Public Utilities Commission, which has until the middle of next year to hammer out the details.

The move follows the passage of Assembly Bill 205, which expanded the California Energy Commission’s jurisdiction and mandated to finalize a new fixed-rate structure by July 2024. The proposal would restructure the current system, where customers are charged mainly on their use, tacking on new income-based fees, while reducing baseline electricity costs by 33 percent.

Now, before you start freaking out, PG&E argues that the proposal will actually lower bills for some and make charges more stable between months. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that electricity bills have soared nearly 14 percent over the last year for Bay Area customers. Edison reiterated that the move was “simply a restructuring of how we bill customers,” rather than an added charge, and would not change overall revenue.

Under the proposed plan, households with annual incomes between $28,000 and $69,000 would see a flat $30 fee from PG&E. Those earning between $69,000 and $180,000 would shell out another $51 monthly in PG&E. The highest incomes would pay between $85 and $128 in monthly fees.

Officials claim that these charges will help cover the costs of building and maintaining electricity infrastructure and provide financial relief for low-income customers.

PG&E expects many customers will end up with lower bills, and those who will pay more will only see a “relatively small bill impact.” A third party would be tasked with verifying each customer’s income, which would not be stored at the utilities.

If the commissioners approve the overhaul by next summer, Californians can expect to see the change-up by 2025. So, keep your eyes peeled, folks, as the winds of change are blowing in the Bay Area’s electricity bills.

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