Utility lines in the Grant Hill neighborhood of San Diego / Photo by Megan Wood

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This post originally appeared in the May 18 Morning Report. Subscribe to the free newsletter here.

San Diego Gas and Electric plans to raise gas and electric bills by almost 9 percent beginning in 2024 if state regulators OK a proposed four-year spending plan submitted this week by the utility. 

That means a typical residential customer (which SDG&E defines as a user of 400 kwh hours of electricity and 24 therms of gas per month) would see their utility bills jump around $18 per month, according to the utility. 

“We know our customers may not take much comfort in this,” Scott Crider, senior vice president of external affairs at SDG&E, told Voice of San Diego Tuesday. “We recognize with all the inflationary pressure with higher gas prices, food and housing, there’s never a good time to ask for a rate increase.”

Investor-owned utilities in California have to submit justification for raising rates on customers to the state Public Utilities Commission in what’s called a General Rate Case filing. It’s basically SDG&E’s forecast on what it will cost to run its business largely for infrastructure and maintaining the system, said Jamie York, who leads the work on these filings. The 2024-2027 plan shows SDG&E wants to spend $3.02 billion in 2024. That’s almost 19 percent more than it planned to spend in 2023. 

Crider said the spending is focused largely in three areas: powering a transition to clean energies, like building batteries and electric vehicle charging infrastructure; fixing gas lines; and protecting and preventing infrastructure from starting wildfires, including burying more power lines underground which is one of the costliest wildfire measure utilities can undertake.  

How much the utility might spend in 2025 and years after would be proposed later after factoring in inflation. The CPUC has 18 months to review SDG&E’s spending plan.

The utility also wants to boost its cybersecurity budget, citing recent cyber attacks by Russia on Ukraine and U.S. organizations and industries. And SDG&E wants to spend more on developing hydrogen as a potential renewable energy resource.

Energy bills spiked dramatically in January, about 11 percent systemwide. So the extra spending isn’t welcome news for many. More than 25 percent of SDG&E’s residential customers owe money on their energy bills, according to the Union-Tribune. 

Craig Rose, a former Union-Tribune reporter turned advocate for the city of San Diego to discard SDG&E and form a public utility, said these rate increases “make the case for public power.” 

“How much better a case do we need for revoking the franchise (with SDG&E) than these constant rate increases,” Rose said.

Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, senior vice president of diversity and community partnerships for Sempra, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.

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7 Comments

  1. “SDG&E Proposes 9% rate hike.”

    No.

    Sincerely,
    San Diego resident forced to use SDG&E

  2. The recent Community Power drive said it “could” save rate payers 2% on their electric portion of their bill (i.e. not 10%, 20% or ?).
    If government is responsible for “… powering a transition to clean energies, like building batteries and electric vehicle charging infrastructure; fixing gas lines; and protecting and preventing infrastructure from starting wildfires, including burying more power lines underground …” i.e. “doing things”, I think it would cost far more.

  3. This proposed increase is a complete joke, as is SDG&E. The current rates—and proposed increases—are almost completely arbitrary. In November, December, and January my bill doubled. I did NOTHING different than what I normally do. Investigated solar and, surprise, that’s a ripoff too because you are selling power back to the grid at a fraction of what SDG&E will charge customers for it. You are also on the hook for any ‘grid’ fees they invoke, irregardless of what the solar reps tell you. Plain and simple, SDG&E is gouging citizens and we—our political leaders, mainly—are taking it. The CPP is another scam that essentially proposes we should like it because it’s ‘green’ power. Same rates. Different name. Power generated by mainly green tech? Maybe, but I doubt it. Believe me, I’d love to generate my own power via solar…but not when I am going to be making a bunch of profit for SDG&E at my own expense.

    1. Let’s be clear. Currently, under Net Energy Metering (NEM) 2.0 rules, rooftop solar customers who generate more solar energy than they use can sell that excess power to SDG&E at full retail rates, and SDG&E sells that same power to other customers at its full retail rates. You might be mistaking current NEM 2.0 rates with what is being discussed under the CPUC’s ongoing NEM 3.0 proceeding, which is considering potential changes to current NEM policy. The Administrative Law Judge in that proceeding issued a proposed decision (PD) that suggested that rooftop solar customers only be paid wholesale prices for any surplus electricity exported to the grid, far less than current customers get, and would have added about $80 a month to rooftop solar customers in new grid connection fees, which are being called a solar tax, since those new fees would apply only to new rooftop solar customers. The initial PD also would have reduced NEM export prices for existing rooftop solar customers over time, and phased in the new solar tax on existing customers, reneging on the original deal they got when they spent tens of thousands of dollars on their rooftop solar systems. The governor convinced the CPUC to withdraw the initial PD and the Commission is rumored to be considering a new less radical PD now, but we won’t know what it is until the Commission releases an amended PD.

  4. Solar is not a joke or a ripoff and net metering means you generate and use at whatever rate you consume at. Only when you OVER GENERATE do the utility orgs pay you wholesale for that over-generated energy.

    Distributed power is the future and with home storage systems like PowerWall there’s little need to expanding transmission infrastructure. Unfortunately, as a publicly traded corporation, SDG&E/Sempera is not setup to accept this reality since it means shrinking the antiquated business model of centralized generation and distribution.

    Think about this, the electricity generated by solar panels on a house in any given neighborhood never leaves that neighborhood. That electricity is consumed by adjacent homes without solar and any others on the same block.

  5. Constant wind and sun we have and we need to buy pollution causing electricity at high rates.

  6. SDG&E is investor owned so its first priority is to make money for shareholders via its customers.

    SDG&E makes a profit by adding a percentage on the money it expends, which gives them an incentive to spend as much money as possible.

    And if that’s not bad enough, the City gets a piece of the action via franchise fees. It’s time to move off this business model.

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