SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The California Public Utilities Commission admits it has received hundreds of calls from SDG&E customers concerned about billing.
The CPUC regulates utilities such as SDG&E and approves the rates that the utility company brings forward to them each year.
A spokesperson for the agency says since January 1, when new rates went into effect, the CPUC received approximately 238 comments from consumers voicing their opinion on SDG&E rates and about 65 complaints from SDG&E customers including alleged incorrect billing.
“There's a problem in the amount of billing, there's a problem with how much the people are being billed for. And good luck trying to get a question out of San Diego Gas & Electric,” said Maria Severson.
She is a San Diego attorney who has sued SDG&E in the past and gone in front of the CPUC to advocate for consumers and call for transparency.
“They should bring a motion and open an investigation as to why San Diego Gas & Electric customers are being billed in ways that includes so many mistakes, and what appears to be gross over billing at times,” said Severson.
The CPUC has opened investigations in the past. In 2018 they found San Jose Water Company violated billing practices.
After several calls to SDG&E, the power company found customers like San Clemente ratepayer Addelle Hutak and Oceanside widow Julie Bannon were hooked up to their neighbor’s meter and getting billed for it.
Bannon couldn't get answers, so CBS 8 guided her on how to file a complaint with the CPUC.
That was three weeks ago and she finally received a letter from the CPUC that says the review will take a minimum of 45 days, which determines its findings based on the utilities rules and regulations it must follow.
A spokesperson for SDG&E says it has 20 days to respond to the CPUC complaints.
“The Commission can and should open a proceeding to deal with every single complaint filed,” said Severson.
She sees another a problem with accountability.
CPUC Public Information Officer Christopher Chow, didn't answer CBS 8’s question on whether SDG&E is required to report mistakes such as meter misreadings or wrong hook ups. Chow says utilities notify them of trends and consumer issues they are seeing.
“There needs to be fines imposed. And there needs to be refunds to the people who deserve it,” said Severson.
SDG&E issues this statement:
SDG& takes every customer complaint seriously and investigates it thoroughly. When we find a mistake has been made, we work to make it right. Our goal is to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction.
WATCH RELATED: SDG&E faces off with consumer advocates on rate affordability (March 2022)