Making it in San Diego: Families stunned by high electric bills

Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 16:40:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Outrageously high electric bills are landing in inboxes across San Diego County, some nearing $1,000.

And it's not just the sweltering San Diego summer leading to the increases.

"I was wondering exactly what's going on and wondering if there was an issue," said Matt Berlin, a Point Loma resident who got a $900 electric bill this month from San Diego Gas and Electric. "I mean we do run our A/C but my bill's never been this high."

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The higher electric bills are another challenge as county residents from Point Loma to Poway struggle with the region's increasingly high cost of living.

"I'm at a loss," said Jeff Tarzia, of Poway, who got a $517 electric bill. "I don't know what we're doing different from year to year."

It's not just the near-record heat that is causing the increases due to higher air-conditioning use. SDG&E spokesperson Wes Jones said the utility instituted a state-mandated third usage tier for its highest users. Plus, rates have gone up in the last 12 months, some as high as 28.5 percent.

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"While there is frustration over somebody's bill right now, there are choices to look at in terms of 'hey, is this the right plan? Am I even on the right plan, what can I do?" Jones said.

Jones said San Diegans can switch for free to a Time of Use plan, where energy is most expensive from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then, they can plan ahead by setting the A/C lower before 4 p.m., turning it up when that time hits.

"You're going to experience some savings right there because your A/C is not running as hard from 4 to 9 but you're still using all that cooling you had during the day," he said.

Jones said SDG&E is continuing to move all of its customers to the Time of Use plan. Each should transition by next year.

He added that the utility will refund customers the difference if they end up paying more under Time of Use than the previous arrangement, for the first year.