Statement: State lawmaker introduces bill to stop high fixed utility fee

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin introduced legislation Tuesday that will repeal the income-based fixed fee for investor-owned utilities. The legislation is intended to reverse a 2022 law that mandated utilities add an uncapped, income-based, set fee on all residential electricity bills. Energy companies have proposed a new charge between $30 and $70 per month, which would be the highest such fee in the country —  three to seven times the national average.

Many consumer and environmental groups argue that a high fixed charge and slightly lower kilowatt/hour rates would end up reducing bills for high electricity users and increasing bills for lower electricity users. The high fixed charge is expected to raise costs for millions of Californians who live in apartments and small homes, or those who are thoughtful about energy conservation and efficiency.

CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom responded to the bill passage with the following statement:

“The new set fee system proposed by utilities would increase bills on millions of Californians, incentivize energy waste and punish those of us committed to energy conservation and efficiency. This not only diminishes consumer control over energy bills, but a system that incentivizes high energy consumption could increase costs on the entire system and lead to higher electricity bills for everyone. It also contradicts our state’s long tradition of incentivizing behavior that benefits society and helps us hit our climate and energy policy goals. We’re thankful that Assemblymember Irwin is committed to reversing this bad policy.” 

Read more about the proposed high fixed charge from CALPIRG.