Business & Real Estate

Public feedback on SMUD rate-change proposals begins Thursday

Photo illustration
Photo illustration Sacramento Bee file

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s board of directors is holding two public workshops and a hearing to discuss proposed rate changes set to start January 2018.

All three meetings will be held in the Rubicon Room of SMUD’s Customer Service Center at 6301 S St. The first workshop will be at 10 a.m. Thursday. A second workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 11, followed by a public hearing at 6 p.m. June 1.

SMUD is proposing a rate increase of 1.5 percent for all residential customers in 2018 and a 1 percent increase in both 2018 and 2019 for all non-residential customers.

The utility said the rate increases will be used for upgrades for a modern energy grid and to meet customer needs. The increases, if approved, also will go to improve technology that SMUD customers use to monitor and manage their energy use.

The proposal comes on the heels of annual 2.5 percent increases for all SMUD customers since 2014. Even if the latest rate hikes are approved, SMUD said its customers will still have some of the lowest electricity rates in California – about 30 percent lower, on average, than neighboring Pacific Gas & Electric Co. customers.

SMUD said the current average monthly bill for a typical customer using 750 kilowatt-hours of electricity is $109.88. The 1.5 percent increase, if approved, would boost that by $1.62 a month.

SMUD also is proposing a new residential time-of-day rate, with a peak of 5 to 8 p.m. The utility said its board will consider transitioning some residential customers to the new rate as early as September 2018, with a goal of making this the standard rate for all residential customers effective Jan. 1, 2019. SMUD spokesman Jonathon Tudor noted that, under that proposal, the first summer that customers would be under the new rate would be in 2019. All residential customers would be transitioned to the rate by the end of 2019.

The time-of-day rate is meant to reflect the actual cost of providing electric service during peak-use hours. SMUD said it also gives customers the opportunity to better manage electricity costs by shifting the time they use power to lower-cost time periods.

If adopted, in the June 1 to Sept. 30 summer months, a residential customer would pay 28.35 cents per kilowatt hour in the 5 to 8 p.m. weekday peak-use period. Customers in the midpeak weekday period – noon to 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight – would pay 16.11 cents per kilowatt hour. Off-peak users – all other weekday hours, weekends and holidays – would pay 11.66 cents per kilowatt hour.

Rates would be cheaper during the Oct. 1-to-May 31 non-summer months: 13.38 cents per kilowatt hour from 5 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9.69 cents per kilowatt hour at all other weekday hours, weekends and holidays.

SMUD’s Tudor said 44 percent of customers would see reduced annual bill costs if time-of-day is adopted, and about 49 percent would see an increase of $2 a month, on average. About 7 percent would see an average monthly increase of $6.80 or more. All estimates are based on customers implementing no changes in their energy use.

SMUD also is considering a proposal to adjust the structure of the Energy Assistance Program rate to assist SMUD’s low-income customers with the greatest need. SMUD’s board will consider making adjustments to the EAPR discount as early as September 2018. Under the proposal, EAPR customers with household incomes between zero and 100 percent of the federal poverty level would receive the largest monthly discounts. The EAPR discount would be lower for customers in the upper range of the FPL.

Information on the proposed rate action can be seen at smud.org/rateinfo. For specific rates questions, contact SMUD by email at contactus@smud.org or call 855-736-7655.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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