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Our View: The power to change our lives

Posted: August 14, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 14, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

Electricity: We all use it, and we all pay for it. And we’re likely to start paying a lot more for it in the next couple of years. But you can speak up and have an impact on just how high the new rates will climb.

Southern California Edison — the company that supplies the valley with electricity — has a proposal in the works to raise its residential-customer rates by approximately 18.93 percent (and about 15.5 percent for small or medium-size commercial customers) over the next three years, starting in 2012.

Keep in mind, however, that this is an average number among all of Edison’s 14 million customers. Valley residents use far more electricity in the summertime than, say, people living in Ventura, because it’s far cooler there than it is here. So, the increase would hit us harder than some other areas of the state.

Edison is hoping to raise revenue by about $4.6 billion during the next three years through gradual yearly increases in order to compensate for rising operating costs in delivering electricity to its customers and to upgrade and improve its infrastructure.

However, instead of the average ratepayer just taking it on the chin and dealing with yet another financial blow in already trying times, California’s Division of Ratepayer Advocacy is working for us to help ensure that we aren’t paying too much.

In an independent cost analysis, the DRA has estimated that Edison would only need to raise revenue by about $833 million to keep its profit margins intact and do necessary improvements to its network.

The DRA has already disclosed its findings at two hearings this summer, but a final decision on the rate increase isn’t expected until the end of the year.

While the numbers can be contested until the end of time, what is immediately important is the fact that we might be significantly overpaying come next year, when the increases start, unless we get vocal.

So, we’re encouraging valley residents to speak up and let Edison know that these numbers warrant further scrutiny, especially when it’s proposing a rate increase of that size while we’re all trying to climb out of the depths of the recession.

You can do this by contacting both the Division of Ratepayer Advocacy of the California Public Utilities Commission — the organization created to stand between California residents and the utility companies on which we all rely.

Get involved. Call, email and send letters, because this is an issue that affects all of us.

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