Edison fee hikes could affect cities, too

Star-News report Nathan McIntire’s story about a Southern California Edison proposal to increase rates is getting picked up everywhere.

ROSEMEAD – Southern California Edison estimates rates for some residential customers could increase by an average of 30 percent or more next year because of soaring fuel prices and costs to upgrade infrastructure, according to a company executive.

Edison filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission last fall to ask permission to raise electricity rates in 2009. The utility’s initial rate forecast included an average increase of 17.5 percent for residential customers, according to a report issued by Edison in March.

Now, Edison expects that number could double. Average residential rates could increase “in excess of 30 percent” when rising fuel prices are taken into account, said Akbar Jazayeri, vice president of regulatory operations for Edison.

About 40 percent of Edison’s residential customers would not be affected by the rate increases, according to an Edison spokesman. That number includes nearly 1 million Edison customers enrolled in the company’s low-income rate discount program.

Edison’s rates are broken into a five-tiered system based on the amount of energy a customer uses. Only customers within the three highest tiers – the heaviest users – would be affected by the proposed rate hikes, Jazayeri said.

The utility will submit the final component of its application to raise rates next month. Any rate increases must be approved in December by the Public Utilities Commission, which sets the three-year rates and can deny all or parts of Edison’s request.

Another interesting point in the story is Edison’s proposal could really affect municipalities too, as Arcadia City Manager Don Penman points out: “Obviously its ominous, both for the consumer and for public agencies that depend on a lot of electricity.”

I guess gas isn’t the only thing we should be worried about these days…