Critics Shocked by SDG&E Rate-Change Plan

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    After years of being told that using less electricity will save you more money, San Diego Gas & Electric customers who use less electricity could actually pay more under a new plan put forth by the utility.

    SDG&E is proposing a 5 percent rate increase for customers who use less than 130 percent of the "baseline"  amount. A typical customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours would pay about $2.70 more a month, up to approximately $75.40 a month. A neighbor who uses twice as much power would see their monthly bill drop by roughly $4 to about $230.

    The rate changes will balance out, according to the utility, which said that it will not collect more money overall if the changes are implemented.

    Critics argue that those who have have made efforts to lower their energy consumption would, in effect, be penalized if the plan were enacted.

    "It doesn't seem fair to me that if you're going to be using less, you still have to pay more," said SDG&E customer Justin Elizalde. "I mean, the less you use, the less you should pay."

    The rate-change proposal is the result of a new state law that attempts to balance the rates paid by all users, including those who live in inland areas with high temperatures, where air conditioners are used more often and electricity rates are higher.

    The California Public Utilities Commission will make the final decision on the plan, which SDG&E wants to go into effect on Jan. 1.