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SDG&E Rates Will Rise in Wake of Probe

February 26, 1988|GREG JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

A recently completed state Public Utilities Commission investigation into how natural gas is distributed in Southern California will cause San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s "typical" monthly residential gas and electric bill to increase by 3.3%, to $62.17, the utility said Thursday.

The increased rates are scheduled to take effect in May. SDG&E has appealed the proposed $29.6-million rate increase, but "so far, it looks like we lost," said Doug Hansen, SDG&E's pricing manager.

The increases were prompted by a four-year PUC investigation that determined SDG&E customers were not paying their fair share of Southern California Gas Co.'s distribution costs.

Southern California Gas, which maintains a large and expensive gas distribution system throughout Southern California, is SDG&E's major supplier of natural gas.

The PUC investigation determined that SDG&E and its natural-gas customers should pay a higher percentage of Southern California Gas' distribution costs.

"While we don't disagree with customers paying for the actual costs of gas, we do have a fundamental problem with the way the decision allocates the costs to our customers," Hansen said. "We believe our customers have been paying the true costs."

"We are not happy with this (new rate) filing," Hansen said. "Neither we nor our customers get anything out of it."

Residential gas rates will increase by 6.4% because of the ruling. Other rate increases include: small commercial customers, 1%; co-generation customers, 9.5%; other customer groups, 3.7%.

The PUC also ordered SDG&E to pay 12.9% more for natural gas that is burned in SDG&E's two electrical generating plants in San Diego.

Those increases could force SDG&E to increase its electric rates, the utility acknowledged Thursday. However, Hansen said it is too early to predict if an increase will occur.

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