San Diegans Facing Surging Summer Power Bills

NBC 7 Responds looks at the reasons behind high power bills and has some advice on how local customers can save.

As summer heat waves surge across Southern California, more people seek relief by turning on the air conditioning.

But that relief does not come for free.

Power customers will be seeing how costly that can be as the first summer electric bills start arriving in mail and inboxes throughout San Diego County.

For many San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) customers, that means energy bills three, even four times higher than in previous months.

“Wow, I was like, ‘we are going to have to start saving on our electric bills because it’s only going to get hotter,’” Mission Hills homeowner Keeley Kenefick said after opening her June power bill. “Our bill was like $94, or $95 in April and last month’s bill was $338.”

A few hours later, Keeley saw on her NextDoor App she wasn’t the only one surprised over a supercharged power bill.

“Someone posted about [high electric bills], so I chimed in and it just totally took off.”

By the next morning, Keeley said there were over 105 replies to the post.

Power customers throughout the region, and the state, are paying more on their electric bills than they have in previous months and it’s not just because they are cranking up the air conditioning.

SDG&E, along with utility companies throughout California, are now charging summer rates. As is the case with other commodities, energy rates increase along with an increase in demand.

According to SDG&E spokesperson Wes Jones, there are other ways for customers to cut down on costs as well. Jones said SDG&E now offers “Time of Use” plans, which he said are somewhat akin to cell phone plans. Under the plans, customers are encouraged to change when they use energy in exchange for paying lower hourly rates.

“With the Time of Use plan, you can use less energy and you can shift the time of day you use some of your energy,” Jones said. “Those two things together are creating savings for our customers they’ve never had before.”

As for some examples of the shifting of energy use, Jones said even waiting to run the dishwasher or throw loads of laundry in the washing machine after 9pm could result in savings on your next bill.

“From 4pm to 9pm is the highest demand for energy,” added Jones. “With the Time of Use plans, for 19 hours out of the day customers can pay a lesser rate than you would on a standard plan.”

However, Time of Use plans depend on changing the times of day customers use energy. If customers aren’t able to make the changes, they may be forced to pay more than standard ratepayers.

“If you don’t have a lot of flexibility in your schedule, and you can’t shift some of your usage, then staying on a standard plan may be better for you.”

In an effort to promote the Time of Use plans, SDG&E is offering its customers a risk-free trial period. For those customers who switch to one of the plans and don’t see any savings, SDG&E will reimburse them for the amount they would have paid if on a standard use plan.

For more information on Time of Use, click here

Keeley said the higher rates have caused her and her husband to look for additional ways to conserve energy.

“You really have to be diligent and go through your bill and try to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” said Keeley.

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