12 Reasons Your Utility Bill Goes Up Every Year

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Fossil Fuel and Coal Power

It is very expensive, labor-intensive, and extremely harmful to our environment to extract, refine, transport and burn these nonrenewable power sources. Even though they are much more efficient than they were 20 years ago. California is moving away from these forms of energy production towards renewable power. California is mandated to go 100% renewable by 2045, so the shift towards renewable energy is lessening our dependency on these harmful, outdated methods.

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California Imports Electricity

Nearly 30% of California's Power comes from out of state or from Mexico. Along its journey here that energy, in the form of electricity, is lost as it’s shipped through the lines. This loss is already accounted for by the utility, and that is another reason why rates are so high here. Consequently, the energy is roughly 40% cheaper in the bordering states who don’t have to rely on shipping their power in. California must import this amount of energy because there is more demand for power than the current amount of renewable energy sources and natural resources can provide.

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Maintenance Cost

As more and more people make the switch to solar, fewer and fewer people pay their local power company, which means non-solar homes must make up that difference. Utility company's only means for income are their client's electricity bills. So when anything breaks, those that are buying power on the grid will be paying for a majority of those fixed costs. SDG&E is also currently trying to increase people’s monthly connection fees from $10 to $38. When people get solar they are charged a connection fee, to help maintain the grid, because they aren’t (typically) paying an electric bill. Since more and more people are switching to solar, SDG&E’s pool of paying customers is shrinking, therefore people who haven’t made the switch yet are picking up that slack in terms of rising rates and increased bills. This proposal to increase the connection charge is yet another way SDG&E is ensuring they make their money, no matter what. It also deters people with low bills from making the switch, because it will no longer be cost-effective.

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Grid Maintenance

The cost associated with maintaining the utility companies high voltage line is an extremely expensive and dangerous job for electricians. They are compensated very well because they risk their lives, work long hours, and oftentimes travel long distances to work in remote areas. Because the cost associated with maintaining the grid is so high, local utilities don’t want to come out of pocket for it. 

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SDGE’s Employees and Business Expenses

SDG&E employs several hundred employees and has many expenses associated with keeping San Diego’s lights on. Along with the other utility giants, SDG&E must have its transmission lines buried underground in all rural areas by 2045. It cost about $3 million per mile to underground the overhead lines, an expense bill payers are already seeing reflected in their monthly bill.

SDG&E’s Employees Benefits and Retirement

SDG&E employees get many perks outside of their wages such as vacation time, health care, retirement plans, 401K, sick time, time-in-a-half for overtime and get paid twice as much to work on Sunday or Holiday. Those costs aren’t on our electric bill but we pay for all of that out of them.

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Decommissioning San Onofre Power Plant

Back in 2009, all nuclear power plants that were located on a fault line around the world were ordered to decommission and stop all power production immediately. The risk of having another earthquake like the one in Japan was too high to have another nuclear spill. San Onofre produced 17% of California's power and cost us billions of dollars to build. When the power plant was decommissioned, we saw an increase of 17% in our rates. Go Figure.

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California has a lot of fires

A recently added cost that SDG&E and PG&E find themselves facing are damages caused by wildfires. The fires were caused by improperly maintained equipment and strong winds breaking lines. As a result, the utilities must bury all power lines in residential areas by the year 2045. This is an extremely expensive maneuver. For every mile of underground wire that needs to be put underground, it cost about $3 million. 

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The Cost of Creating Renewable Power

Regardless of whether or not your home has solar, by 2045 your power will be renewable.

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California Mandate for Renewable Power

All of California’s utility companies have phase-out carbon emission power plans set to be in place by 2045. What this means is that there is a 100% renewable mandate in place, and all of the power California uses in 2045 and after must come from a renewable source. You aren’t required to make the change to solar, but if you do not the power that your home will be using will come from a renewable power source (your neighbors solar, shipped from solar farms) and you will pay utility prices for that power, whatever that may be. The only way to protect yourself is to proactively make a choice and be a producer on the grid. 

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SDG&E Stockholders

Sempre Energy the owners of San Diego Gas and Electric are a for-profit business and they also need investors to afford the utility industry's need for access to capital. People who invest do so for the intention to make earnings through the electricity rate increases.

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SDGE is a Monopoly

The only check and balance for the utility companies here in California is the Public Utilities Commission. However, a majority of the Members on the commission are employed and on payroll by the actual utility companies. 

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