Sierra Club denounces state’s new electricity rate

A San Francisco-based conservation group said a new electricity rate plan passed Friday by the California Public Utilities Commission will raise rates on majority of customers and make the air dirtier.

The approval by the CPUC in San Francisco will transition the state’s five-tiered system to two tiers by January 1, 2019 with a 25 percent difference separating the two tiers, according to the CPUC.

CPUC officials said the new rate structure will mean more customers will be paying for the electricity they use rather than higher income customers subsidizing lower income customers.

The California Legislature froze lower tier rates in 2001 and the five tiers increasingly departed from a pay for what you use structure, according to a statement by CPUC president Michael Picker. This “imposed greater inequities on large-family households that were pushed into higher tiers in hot climate zones,” Picker’s statement added.

But Sierra Club officials said now customers using twice the average amount of electricity will pay less and everyone else will pay more.

In a statement, director of the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign Evan Gillespie said the majority of residents will face higher bills and dirtier air as a result:

“After slipping in hundreds of last minute changes, this outcome is hardly surprising.┬áBy moving this vote to a federal holiday, and then slipping in an updated proposed decision less than two days before, the Commission has shown that the public’s interest is not the priority here.”

A spokesperson for the CPUC did not immediately respond to a call or email requesting a comment on whether rates for a majority of customers would increase.