2020 Sierra National Forest Creek Fire in California
May 30, 2022 - The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) reports on May 20, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requested input on a suite of measures they are considering to address escalating energy prices. Among the proposals, the CPUC is contemplating establishing a new fixed charge for customers living in high fire threat districts. CPUC appears to want to shift more of the costs of utility wildfire mitigation activities to those customers who live in the forested communities in need of these safety upgrades.
RCRC is a formal party to this proceeding and will be strongly opposing these efforts. After decades of utilities failing to adequately maintain their infrastructure, it is unfathomable for CPUC to drive up costs for many Californians who have been hit hardest by utility malfeasance and who have simultaneously suffered the greatest decline in energy reliability in the state given the frequency of planned and unplanned electrical outages over the last few years. This CPUC proposal comes just a few years after the Legislature repealed the inequitable State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fire Fee in rural areas, which subsidized CAL FIRE’s statewide activities.
On a related note, Governor Newsom’s recently proposed energy budget trailer bill, among other things, seeks to repeal the existing $10/month cap on fixed charges that the CPUC may impose on residential customers to recover a reasonable portion of the fixed costs of providing electric service. The $10/month cap ($5/month for qualified low-income customers) was authorized nearly a decade ago through a robust public process; however, the Administration is seeking to repeal that cap and give the CPUC broader authority to establish such fees through an expedited budget process with little opportunity for vetting by policy committees or the public. RCRC will be actively engaged to oppose any mechanism that could shift greater costs to rural customers living in high fire threat areas.
Public comments on the proposal can be submitted on the “Public Comment” tab of the proceeding’s docket page. Please contact John Kennedy, RCRC Policy Advocate, with any questions or comments, and to learn how to engage.
ABOUT RURAL COUNTY REPRESENTATIVES OF CALIFORNIA (RCRC)
The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) is a thirty-seven member county strong service organization that champions policies on behalf of California’s rural counties. RCRC is dedicated to representing the collective unique interests of its membership, providing legislative and regulatory representation at the State and Federal levels, and providing responsible services for its members to enhance and protect the quality of life in rural California counties. To learn more about RCRC, visit rcrcnet.org and follow @RuralCounties on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.