Many of us here in California received a nasty surprise when our electric bills arrived last week, thanks to rate increases that disproportionately penalize the heaviest residential users.
We had already been carefully watching our electricity consumption, trying to offset the higher cost of gasoline in our budget, so it was quite a shock to receive a bill that was over $100 higher than our all-time highest bill.
Because of the way the increase was structured, once you hit a certain usage rate, you get zapped. If you have a family of six, as we do, you're almost certain to be affected by the higher rate.
An even bigger shock came in today's news: the rates are going up even more in August, and the increase is retroactive to last January 1st. The retroactive part particularly troubles me -- how can they rebill us for something for which we already paid? It's hard to imagine that's legal. Edison, in its "kindness," is going to spread the retroactive portion of the bill out over the next year.
It was approximately 104 degrees in our city today, but we were afraid to turn on our air conditioner, having no idea what further costs to expect with the additional (and retroactive) increase next month. We finally caved in and turned it on at 4:00 p.m. We tried to compensate by only turning on a couple of lights tonight. We pretended we were camping, but this could get old really fast.
It's absurd that a middle-class family, already carefully managing air conditioning use and being careful to switch off lights, should face several hundred dollars for a single month's electric bill.
Here we are years after the rolling blackouts, and California still hasn't increased electricity production so that there's plenty to go around at reasonable prices. I'm a fourth-generation Californian, but leaving the state looks better all the time...