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Consumer Confidential: How Californians pay for electricity is changing

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

More than 2 million Southern California Edison residential customers are about to be switched to new rate plans.

Approximately half this number will see their monthly bills go down, the utility says. A million or so may see their bills rise by a few bucks.

And roughly 100,000 Edison customers could see their electricity bills climb by hundreds of dollars a year unless they opt out or significantly change their behavior.

Californians are now facing one of the most sweeping changes to how they pay for energy. Ensuring ratepayers are well-informed about the stakes — and the decisions they have to make — is crucial. Edison could be doing a better job.

A spokesperson for the utility challenged that characterization. We’ll get back to that.

I learned about the Edison rate change from a Palm Springs resident named Lynn Pettit, who sent me a copy of the letter she received from the utility informing her about the transition, which in her case takes effect in December.

 

“Is it a scam?” she asked.

“I thought at first that the letter seemed reasonable,” Pettit, 85, told me. “Then I read the rest of it and I thought, ‘What?'"

OK, this next bit is a little wonky, so hang in there.

It won’t come as a news flash to anyone that California’s power grid is straining to keep up with demand as climate change affects electricity usage, especially during increasingly sizzling summers.

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