Power lines in Carlsbad
Power lines in Carlsbad. REUTERS/Mike Blake

San Diego Gas & Electric is asking California legislators to shift expenses for various “public purpose” programs from consumer electric bills to the state’s general fund.

Examples include school energy efficiency improvements, special rates for food banks, rebates for energy-efficient products, and various discounts for disadvantaged groups.

The utility is backing Assembly Bill 982 by Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua of Stockton which states these expenses should “more appropriately be funded by all taxpayers because the benefits accrue to society at large, not only to electrical customers or the electrical system.”

SDG&E said the costs for these programs will total nearly $500 million in 2023 and moving them to the general fund would cut electric rates by 3% to 7%.

“It is time to remove the burden of mandated program costs from electric utility customers’ monthly bills,” said Villapudua, a Democrat. “Up and down the state, I hear outcries from Californians about their struggles to keep up with bills.”

The bill was reintroduced this year and was discussed at a meeting of the Utilities and Energy Committee on Wednesday.

“SDG&E is advocating for common sense solutions to make energy more affordable,” said SDG&E Vice President of Customer Services Dana Golan. “If approved, this legislation would provide our customers with much needed bill relief.”

Public purpose programs are one of three major components of a customer’s electric bill. The other two are the charge for the electricity or gas and the associated delivery charge.

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