Senate Republicans continue fighting against utility income-based fixed charge

Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones and members of the California Senate Republican Caucus delivered an urgent letter to Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that he join the caucus and 23 Democrat lawmakers to repeal or substantially amend a law authorizing a fixed-charge billing system for electricity bills based on household income. Click here to read the letter.

The income-based fixed charge was pushed by the supermajority party in a bill last legislative session. Senate Republicans coined the term ‘Hard Work Utility Tax’ for it because it is an unjust and regressive plan that fails to recognize the differences in energy usage among households and will unfairly burden low-income and struggling middle-class families.

“We are once again raising a red flag about the income-based fixed charge on electrical bills,” said Jones. “Despite the supermajority initially pushing it forward, I’m glad to see 23 of my Democrat colleagues finally speaking out about how burdensome the fixed charge will be on Californians. Senate Republicans are inviting the governor to join us and work together in a bipartisan manner on fixing this poorly constructed billing system before it’s too late. The last thing Californians need is another charge that will make it harder for them to make ends meet, which is exactly what the ‘Hard Work Utility Tax’ will do.”

“The California Public Utilities Commission, a board made up of governor appointees, just approved electricity rate hikes that will go into effect next summer, and it’s at the forefront of my mind as we head into the new year. Yet again, California is making a high quality of life unaffordable for the average family. As parents and families preparing for the holiday season, we shouldn’t have to worry about unexpectedly high utility bills in 2024,” said Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh.

Below is an excerpt of the letter and click here to download the entire letter.

… We are all supportive of efforts to stabilize and improve the safety of the grid and lower electricity rates for Californians. However, implementing a structured fixed-charge system that diminishes individual responsibility and usage in favor of an “identity” subsidization is not, in our opinion, an answer. More fees are not a solution to already ridiculously high utility bills. ….

Background
In 2022, California Democrat legislators pushed forward Assembly Bill 205 (2022). Now law, the controversial AB 205 authorized members of the California Public Utility Commission (to create an income-based fixed charge on utility bills.

In April 2023, Jones and the California Senate Republican Caucus raised the initial red flag to the CPUC expressing their concerns about AB 205. Click here to download the April letter.

Following their April 2023 letter, Senate Republicans again tried to sound the alarm and repeal AB 205 in September 2023 with an amendment, which was ultimately defeated on party lines.