High energy use charge ‘punishes’ inland areas, state senator says

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SAN DIEGO — Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee, said a state-sponsored effort to reward those who don’t use energy during peak hours is punishing people who live in rural inland areas of San Diego County.

San Diego Gas & Electric added the high usage charge to its billing structure in 2017 at the behest of the California Public Utilities Commission. More than 120,000 SDG&E customers were affected by the charge last year, which is applied to a customer’s bill when they use more than 400% of their base energy allowance in a given month.

Jones highlighted the charge’s effect on his constituents in an episode of his YouTube series, “Are You Kidding Me?”

“In my district, Ramona experienced a record temperature of 117 degrees last year while temperatures in nearby communities also broke records,” Jones says in the video released Friday. “Many of my constituents reside in the hotter inland areas where the temperatures regularly exceed 90 degrees.”

Jones represents the Senate’s 38th District, which includes areas in north and east county like Escondido, Poway, Julian, Borrego Springs and El Cajon.

Last month, SDG&E announced its appeal to the CPUC to suspend the charge to help ratepayers save money was rejected. The company also said it plans to find other ways to reduce electricity and gas prices throughout the summer, possibly by removing its higher pricing structure during the summer months, a move that would also require CPUC approval.

SDG&E customers and county residents can avoid the charge by switching to one of the company’s time-of-use plans, which charge customers more for using energy during peak hours rather than high overall usage. Residents can learn more about and enroll in a time-of-use plan at sdge.com/whenmatters.

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