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Many Electricity Bills to Shrink

April 17, 2002|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Starting in June, many California electricity customers are expected to see their bills shrink slightly with the scheduled end of a yearlong rate surcharge.

Pacific Gas & Electric said Tuesday that their customers would see rates drop by about half a penny per kilowatt-hour, or nearly 4% across all classes of business and residential customers. Southern California Edison declined to provide specific information about its customer rates because the Rosemead utility has not yet filed with state regulators, but a spokesman said the rate changes should be similar to PG&E's.

San Francisco-based PG&E was unable to estimate Tuesday how much the average residential bill would decline, blaming the complex residential rate structure.

The temporary surcharge grew out of the five-member commission's vote in March 2001 to raise electricity rates by an average of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour, the largest rate hike in state history. But it took rate designers more than two months to craft and implement the new rates, so the PUC allowed the utilities to back-bill customers for the uncollected portion over 12 months to minimize rate shock.

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