San Diego Gas and Electric rates to increase on September 1

Customer bills could go up as much as 12 percent

SAN DIEGO - Starting Sept. 1, San Diego Gas & Electric customers are going to be hit with higher electricity costs -- a rate hike approved by the state.

SDG&E was granted a rate increase by the California Public Utilities Commission. Customer bills may increase by as much as 12 percent.

"They asked for more, but we intervened and got the Commission to grant them less," said Don Kelley, executive director of the Utility Consumer Action Network.

"We thought some of the spending they were putting on rate payers was simply too high," Kelley added.

"If the rates go up, SDG&E doesn't make more money," said Stephanie Donovan, a spokeswoman for the utility.

"We have operating expenses to deliver power to our customers, and because we're not government owned, we go before the Commission every few years to ask to recoup those expenses," she added.

The process is called a General Rate Case. The increase September 1 is, however, less than anticipated.

"We still don't have a decision by the Commission on whether we can recoup the cost of delivering electricity," said Donovan.

That decision could come later this year or next, and if it favors the utility, rates could go up again.

What might offset the increases are the recent findings that utilities were being gouged during the 2001 energy crisis and whether a judge finds fault with Mitsubishi for damages concerning their steam generators that forced the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

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