California Utility Bills ‘Skyrocket’, as State Tries to Meet Overly Aggressive Renewable Goals

A rapid transition to renewable energy has led utility bills in California to skyrocket by as much as 127 percent, according to an article in E&E News. As a result of this dramatic increase, state lawmakers are now facing a revolt from angry constituents demanding relief from the policies driving the higher costs.

The article notes that new expenses from the state’s transition to renewables is a major factor in the growing utility rates facing customers. Southern California Edison, which supplies power to much of Southern California, has estimated that “the costs of generating, storing and transmitting all the renewable energy California needs could be $370 billion by 2045.” These higher expenses for utilities mean higher rates for their customers.

According to the California Public Utility Commission’s Public Advocates Office, California has not experienced rate hikes this expensive since the 1970’s. One California utility now has one-fifth of its customers behind on their bills. This is the danger when state policies, federal policies, or unrealistic corporate goals push utilities toward renewables before they are ready. It’s also why states need a diverse mix of electricity sources, including coal.

The E&E article notes that California has set a goal for 60 percent of its electricity to come from renewables by 2030, but many Californians are simply unable to afford this aggressive timeline.  California state Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat who chairs the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, referred to his own constituents at a recent hearing saying, “They don’t care where it comes from, how we got it. It’s, ‘Can I afford it?’ And ratepayers, especially working-class people, are paying for most of these aspirational projects that… are way down the line. And we haven’t even proven that they’re going to pan out and hit our environmental goals.”

When it comes to electricity, policymakers should focus on their constituents’ need for affordable and reliable electricity, rather than seeking to meet risky, expensive, and unattainable timelines.

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