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Public hearings continue for proposed SDGE rate hikes

"You're killing families, small businesses and once again, you're killing our state. The answer to the public is no more,” said a SDG&E ratepayer.

SAN DIEGO — The commission that approves SDG&E rates received an earful on Wednesday evening.

The California Public Utilities Commission held two virtual hearings Wednesday on SDG&E’s rate hike proposal.

“We will continue to not pay for this. You're killing families, small businesses and once again, you're killing our state. The answer to the public is no more,” said a SDG&E ratepayer.

SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy, is asking the CPUC for a rate increase.

It's an opportunity that comes along every four years.

“The big issue facing us today is trust. SDG&E has lost trust by most people here,” said Paul Henkin.

Henkin, who lives in Bonita, lives on a fixed income and says SDG&E’s existing high rates have forced some like him to turn off the heat.

“Are you waiting for someone to die? Well, it may have already happened since I seriously doubt the coroner would list SDG&E rates as the cause or even contributing factor,” said Henkin.

If approved, electric customers would see their bills increase by 5.3% in 2024. Gas customers would see a 17.5 % increase.

CBS 8 crunched some numbers and found a $300 electric bill would go up about $16 per month and a $200 gas bill would cost $35 more in the first year.

“We should be having a conversation about how much rates can be reduced by instead of assuming that rates are supposed to keep going up,” said Julia Severson, Protect our Communities Foundation, advocate and analyst.

While rate hikes are often approved by the CPUC, the hearings are not a lost cause. In the past, CBS 8 found that the CPUC doesn't always fully approve the full amount of the rate request.

That still doesn't sit well for a blind veteran who learned that Sempra Energy made record profits last year.

“They are unreasonable, unjust and unconscionable.”

CBS 8 found SDG&E is requesting the rate increases to cover a $3.3 billion budget proposal from 2024-2027.

The utility says California's clean energy, climate change policies and regulations for wildfire mitigation efforts are costly.

Rate increases to cover these projects are gaining support from tourism and chamber of commerce organizations.

“We absolutely have to have more EV infrastructure, modernization of our electric grid, installation of battery facilities, replacement of old natural gas pipelines and much, much more,” said Bret Schanzenbach, Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce President CEO.

The CPUC says it has received 500 written comments so far.

If approved SDG&E says the rate increase would go into effect around the middle of next year.

On March 23, there will be two in-person hearings held. One hearing is at 2 p.m. the second hearing is at 6 p.m. at The Sherman Heights Community Center in San Diego.

Those wanting to speak will have to fill out a speakers form on site. It's best to arrive early.

At CBS 8, we are always Working for You and our San Diego community. If there is something you would like us to investigate, please share your idea here or email us at workingforyou@cbs8.com. 

WATCH RELATED: How to get involved in SDG&E's next general rate case public hearing (March 2023).




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