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Group of San Diegans protest SDG&E rates outside downtown courthouse

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 20:09:01-04

SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV) - A group of frustrated San Diegans, tired of high utility bills rallied outside of the Hall of Justice Thursday, making a plea to SDG&E and Sempra Energy to lower the costs that so many cannot pay.

"SDG&E is making massive profits, Sempra is making more profits," said SDG&E customer Scott Kelly. "The first thing they can do is simply cut our bills and give us all a break which is sorely needed."

This comes after the State Public Utilities Commission reported that in March 356,000 households missed payment deadlines.
That's about 26.7 percent of SDG&E's residential customers, an increase from the 24.1 percent behind in March of 2021.

SDG&E residential electricity rates rose 7.6 percent in January, the utility says it's mostly due to soaring wholesale gas prices impacting the cost of electric generation.

CSU San Marcos professor Kevin Kilpatrick noticed his bill skyrocketing.

"My bill for the longest time was $70 to $80. Last January it was $208, and the only reason it was $208 is because I shut off all of my heat and didn't cook anything after I got my midcycle usage report which looked like $320," said Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick filed a lawsuit against SDG&E in small claims court earlier this year and presented his case Thursday at the Hall of Justice.

"I am suing SDG&E for price gouging and emotional distress," he said. "I need my money much more than SDG&E needs my money, and I feel for these people who really are making choices between electricity, and most importantly medicine."

The group rallying downtown showed support for Kilpatrick.

"This is the little guy taking on the giant corporation," said Kelley.

"I think one in four people definitely agree that their rates are too high, and I think it's most of San Diego, it's ridiculous that we pay twice as much as legislatures who live in Sacramento and that's absurd."

The judge is expected to rule on Kilpatrick's case in the coming days.

SDG&E sent ABC 10News a statement Thursday.

“Sempra’s executive compensation is performance-based and 100% funded by shareholders and not ratepayers, as listed in the public filings.

While SDG&E’s rates are higher, we are much further along in our efforts to prevent catastrophic wildfires and have garnered national recognition [] for being the most reliable electric utility in America. Our average monthly residential ​electric bill is below the national average given our moderate weather​. SDG&E remains keenly focused on addressing energy affordability while building a safer, stronger energy system that can withstand climate threats and accommodate a growing amount of renewable energy, battery storage and electric vehicles as California looks to meet its carbon goals by 2045. For example, we are advocating for Assembly Bill 2765 which proposes to fund some mandated programs out of the state’s budget versus energy bills, and we have helped secure more than $80 million to help customers pay off some of their overdue utility bills. There are several assistance programs available [], from debt relief to payment arrangements, and we encourage our customers to reach out to us because we want to help.”

ABC 10News requested a comment from Sempra Energy but did not hear back immediately.