Electricity rates increase 26 percent | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Electricity rates increase 26 percent

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Don’t be too shocked. Electricity rates are going up today.

Sierra Pacific Power was granted approval Wednesday by the California Public Utilities Commission to raise its rates by an average 26 percent for 45,000 customers in the Golden State.

The coverage area extends from Portola in the north over to Markleeville and Topaz Lake to Coleville to the south. About 80 percent of these customers live in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Reno-based utility company applied in June 2001 for the hike, the first such increase since 1995. The collective increase of 2 cents per kilowatt hours amounts to $10 million.

The typical residential monthly electric bill for a customer using 650 kilowatt hours would go up to $64.63.

Low income customers who are eligible for CARE — California Alternate Rates for Energy — are exempt from the increase.

Parent company Sierra Pacific Resources requested the increase to recover soaring energy prices during the 2000-01 energy crisis throughout the West. The company said it set rates at 1995 levels.

Shortly thereafter, a deregulation bill prompted a rate freeze for California electricity users. It ended March 31.

“Even with this increase, our rates will still be 35 to 50 percent lower than they are for Californians served by the state’s largest utilities,” said Mary Simmons, vice president of Rates and Regulation for Sierra Pacific Power.

Sierra Pacific’s cost per kilowatt hour is $9.94 for California customers, in comparison to San Diego Gas and Electric users. They pay $15.33. Southern California Edison customers shell out $14.06.

Sierra Pacific’s increase is the first of a two-part request by Sierra Pacific to change customer rates. The second request amounting to a 17 percent increase was filed last April in which the company asked for $8.9 million in relief.

This decision is expected to come about in 2003. If approved, it would raise rates another $7.67 for typical users consuming 650 kw hours.

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