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Are major changes coming to your electric bill? 5 things you should know

Original post made on Jul 24, 2023

California's three largest electric utilities, including PG&E, have proposed a plan to charge customers not just for how much energy they use, but also based on their household income.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 24, 2023, 1:50 PM

Comments (13)

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

This doesn't make any sense. Then again progressive/socialist politics never do. It's self-serving "feel-good" politics to make the progressive feel better about him/herself.. It's to the detriment of the rest of society.

Unless you've applied for a low-income discount. PG&E, etc. has no idea what your income is, nor do they need to know. You're paying for gas/electricity. not applying for a loan.

All this will do is encourage too many people to lie about their income to qualify for a better rate. We need more honesty, not less.

I'm in favor of low-income discounts for obvious reasons. Electric/gas companies already have this implemented, and they should leave well enough alone.

Weighing in online or attending a meeting is a good idea.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2023 at 4:50 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

My first thoughts are along the lines of privacy. Why would anyone want the energy company (PA Utilities here in town or PG&E generally) to know our income? This is just not invasion of privacy but can complicate matters when various renters share an address as well as shared renters who move frequently.

Secondly, it is grossly unfair. Some people use a lot more power at home than others due to work, health or size of family issues. It sounds horrific to think that income will be a factor to the size of bills as well as usage. Imagine having to kick your high earning kid out of the home because he uses almost no power, but his income makes your bill higher.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2023 at 5:38 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

So what specifically does this mean for Palo Alto customers of Palo Alto Utilities?

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2023 at 6:44 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Amazing - you cannot pick up a weekly paper to discover a new crusade. Crusaders and people who interview them do not ask the right questions. I discovered today that our city utility company bills are processed by Wells Fargo in LA. Wells Fargo has gotten in trouble before for mishandling of people's accounts and information - SSN's, etc.

And if you are using the On-Line payment system for the PA Utilities then you have already lost this battle. Any On-Line system you use has already been hacked. I keep getting letters advising me that some entity that has my data has been hacked and information taken. The City of Oakland - their employee base has been hacked.

What is being contemplated here is clearly illegal and unacceptable. Any bank or IRS government agency that has your data is liable for any breach of that information. If you chose to provide that data that is up to you if you are gaming for a lower rate - but then you are in control of your data.

What is worse that tax dollars will be spent in this crusade - I am sure a "Consultant" will be used to protect the city from being the perpetrator of this activity. Will our City Lawyer and City Manager please get involved in this now so taxpayer money is not wasted on time spent canoodling this topic.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2023 at 7:16 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

"There have been a couple times in the last year where our bill has jumped up a couple hundred dollars, and we haven't been able to figure out why,"

You look at the gas bill and it shows how much you used, multiplied by the rate you are paying.

For electric, look at that side and it shows your consumption and it multiplies that by the rate you are paying.

Water, same.

You can (and should be) looking at all of your utility expenses in comparison to each month in prior years. If your water bill spiked, do you have a leak somewhere that you may not know about it? Twice, it has happened to two people I know, who had water main breaks in their yard, that they didn't notice, until they were gushing like Old Faithful.

For gas, you should be looking for spikes that can occur over time, such as water heaters (oops, we're not supposed to have those anymore!) inefficiencies that lead to needing a new one (the city has a great plan to kick a little something in, if you use their preferred electric water heater installers!). For electricity, if you use electric heat you should check for gaps in windows and doors. Actually you should do that if you use gas heat, too. I think there's a city program where they will come out and assess your appliances and weatherstripping etc, to determine if you need to weatherize anything, or if any appliances are on their last legs. (or, just their legs. lol)

Disclaimer: I am not a plumber, electrician, or appliance installer and am not recommending any particular service. Read the inserts that come with your bill. There's valuable information in them.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2023 at 1:01 am

Silver Linings is a registered user.

This is a terrible idea. How is the utility going to track people’s income? How are they going to make things fair when cost of living varies so much across the state? I agree about the privacy problems this poses. Just like every other proposal intended to hit the wealthy, it’s really going to slam California’s middle class yet again.

There are existing programs to help low income consumers. The only thing that makes sense is to charge by usage.

Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 25, 2023 at 9:32 am

Anneke is a registered user.

A few months ago, we increased the insulation in our attic and also underneath our little hobbit home. We open all the windows early in the morning when the outside temperature is still cool. We close the windows at about 9:00 A.M., and the whole house stays at 75 Degrees and lower all day. We have yet to use our central air conditioning. Even on the hottest days, the house stayed cool. Since our mighty oak fell earlier this year during the heavy wind storms and we now have full sun, we started drying our laundry in the back garden. Everything dries so quickly and not only does it smell fresh, there is no need for ironing. Finally, we discovered a hidden water leak, fixed it, and our water bill is way down. We love lowering our carbon footprint. It is truly easy to do. Try the above to see how you can lower your electricity bills. All these other artificial measures do not amount to much!

Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2023 at 1:27 pm

marc665 is a registered user.

Everything in life is regressive so why stop at electric bills?

We should discount everything for lower income people: cars, cell phones, housing, food, travel, entertainment, etc. Let's issue everyone a state backed credit card and let them use it to pay for everything. When the bill comes, they only have to pay a percentage of the total and the remainder will be passed onto higher income people.

When someone wants to sell a home the seller will have to adjust the selling price to what the buyer can afford. This way everyone will be able to live in any neighborhood they want.


Posted by Seer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 25, 2023 at 1:40 pm

Seer is a registered user.

This is awesome. If my latest startup investment has a second market outlet, I could already clear $30M this year, then just retire and go to zero income. Let those hardworking engineers pay my bills. Bwahahahaha. Seriously, this is a stupid idea.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 25, 2023 at 5:45 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I am trying now to figure out why "My Feelz" who does not live in this city keeps making comments and directing traffic. The residents of this city are the ones directly affected by the nonsense that is thought up here. Most of us have advanced degrees and are perfectly capable of looking at the problem that directly affects us as to it's legality - that is the first criteria to address. Is this legal? NO! Is it a serious breach of trust in our city management? YES. WE expect our city leaders to conform to the State of California "rules" and universal application of common sense. We do not expect that every "crusade' by the urban city dwellers who are in a very declining situation are now imposed on this suburban city.

Seniors on bikes? Sorry worst idea ever. That is a personal choice by the individual and not a campaign speech.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 26, 2023 at 7:24 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I oppose this odd proposal.

How about charging for usage?
Even if one makes a baseline charge, with higher progressive levels above that baseline - fine.
Everyone should have skin in the game if they’re a rate payer.

In addition:
It’s not reasonable to have to supply one’s income each year (it does change) to a third party utility.
Talk about privacy violation! And the likelihood of hacking or misuse beyond that.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2023 at 4:59 pm

Annette is a registered user.

When I first read about this I had a snarky vision of our City Manager rubbing his hands together, gleefully thinking about how this would augment the funds available for transfer to the General Fund if Palo Alto based electricity fees on income.

If the LIKE button existed, I would have liked the first post, by Jennifer. This is a highly problematic idea that I hope gets shot down. If it does not, there needs to be an exception for households that invested in solar.

I also think utility companies have no d**n business knowing anyone's income. Do you want to share that information with CPAU? That is a slippery slope that doesn't end anywhere good.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 27, 2023 at 6:25 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Annette, I have much the same image.

Jennifer's post above is wonderfully sensible except for her last sentence about attending a meeting on utilities because 12,000 people are needed to oppose a utility rate hike/ That's roughly half the number of utility households here in PA unswelining that you can't fight City Hall when the game is so horribly rigged in their favor, not ours.

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