A sign outside a San Diego Gas & Electric building. Courtesy of the company

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to end a high usage charge that often kicked in for San Diego Gas & Electric customers during hot summer months.

SDG&E had fought to end the state-mandated High Usage Charge — a substantially higher price for electricity at 400% of normal usage — that was established in 2017 to encourage energy conservation.

The special charge caused bills to spike for tens of thousands of SDG&E customers during heat waves when air-conditioning is essential.

“We heard from our customers loud and clear that they felt strongly the High Usage Charge was punitive and unfair, particularly for those who live in hotter climate zones and by necessity, use more energy for cooling during summer months,” said Scott Crider, SDG&E’s chief customer officer.

“By eliminating the charge, our customers have one less thing to worry about during these difficult times and can get some relief,” he added.

Removal of the charge affects about 312,000 customers who are on traditional tiered pricing plans, which charge customers solely based on the amount of energy they use, not when they use energy.

In Thursday’s decision, the Public Utilities Commission determined that the special charge was failing in its original purpose to encourage customers to conserve electricity.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.