Enormous SCE/CPA Bills May Have An Explanation

Written by on February 5, 2022

People who have received enormous January power bills may be seeing part of their December bills show up after a billing mistake between Southern California Edison and a contractor working for the Clean Power Alliance.

CPA said today (Saturday) its contractor, Calpine, and SCE had some sort of communications problem in December, resulting in the December power bills being set out only with SCE transmission costs. and no charges for power generated by CPA.

The December CPA generation costs were – without notice – added to the January bills sent out by SCE to some customers. Their bills thus included January SCE distribution charges, plus December and January CPA generation charges, according the the CPA explanation.

It’s not clear yet who is responsible for the mix-up, or how many people got these huge bills. When KBUU radio contacted the California Public Utilities Commission last week about the issue, our query was brushed off by a spokesperson who explained that power bills are going up.

Under CPUC rules, many customers get their power generated by SCE, but most in Malibu get their power generated by CPA. SCE is responsible for delivering all power, and collecting bills for both SCE and CPA power.

It appears that not all Malibu power bills had the error. KBUU’s bill for December included generation from CPA, and was not unusually low. Our January bill did not include the already-paid December CPA generation charges, and was not unusually high.

Due to privacy laws, KBUU cannot independently verify that people who got the gigantic January bills were under-billed in December.

The explanation was posted by CPA late Friday. KBUU has sent follow-up questions about the issue to SCE, CPA and the CPUC.

Unanswered questions include how many people were affected, which company made the error, and why the error was not detected and publicized by SCE or the CPUC at all, until customers and a reporter began asking questions.

SCE’s monthly bills also charge¬†CPA customers for something called PCIA. Those charges are actually reimbursements to SCE for errors it made purchasing too much wholesale power several years ago, before CPA was created.

Those PCIA surcharges are expiring in March, CPA officials said, making CPA power cheaper by about 6 percent.

At KBUU and our house, our power consumption was about 742 kilowatt hours in January, with the majority off-peak (radio studio equipment runs 24/7, although our transmitter is solar and consumes no SCE power). KBUU and our household were billed $67.57 for CPA power generation, and $170.25 for SCE power delivery.

That bill reflects several delivery rate increases from SCE, related to hardening the power system against fires, CPUC officials said.

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