Q&A: SCE’s 2021 General Rate Case Proposes Public Safety, Reliability Investments

The General Rate Case is how Southern California Edison gets the funding for our day-to-day operations – the wires, the poles, the trucks and all the people and equipment.

It is literally a case we make to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) every three years, with witnesses, testimony and evidence.

On Aug. 30, SCE filed its rate case request with the commission. The proposal seeks authorization to recover the costs from 2021 through 2023 for employees to inspect, repair and (when appropriate) upgrade poles, transformers and distribution lines, as well as provide customer service for billing, turn on/turnoff service and other work.

Q: What is the impact to customers’ electricity bills?
If SCE’s rate case is approved in full, the average monthly bill would increase for residential customers by about $14 in 2021, $4 in 2022 and $6 in 2023.

The increase would be less for SCE’s lower-income customers enrolled in bill assistance programs like California Alternate Rates for Energy and Family Electric Rate Assistance. For example, a residential CARE customer’s average monthly bill would increase by about $9.50 in 2021, $3 in 2022 and $4 in 2023.

SCE understands that rate increases are challenging for many of its customers and doesn’t make this request lightly. The company continues to offer discounted rates to low-income customers through bill assistance programs like CARE and FERA.

Qualified customers are also eligible for payment plans, for rebates on electric vehicles and appliances like smart thermostats and electric water heaters. SCE offers all its customers energy efficiency programs and online tools on SCE.com that can help them manage their energy usage, and rate options to suit their different needs.

Q: When would the bill impacts from this rate case take effect?
Any bill impacts would not take effect until at least Jan. 1, 2021.  

Q: Why is SCE requesting these increases?
Because safety is SCE’s top priority, we continue to take the necessary steps to protect our customers from the greatly increased risks of wildfire driven by our changing climate. The company also remains committed to strengthening service reliability for its customers and, at the same time, helping California meet its clean energy goals. SCE is continuing to balance these priorities, and the funds requested in this rate case will drive crucial efforts in each area.

For example, the money will be used to:

  • Replace or repair poles, wires, transformers and other infrastructure.
  • Provide crews and call center staff to respond to emergencies such as rain or windstorms, earthquakes or wildfires and restore service as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Harden the grid against the threat of wildfires by insulating power lines, installing fire-resistant poles, removing vegetation hazards and intensifying power line inspections in high fire risk areas.
  • Invest in equipment and software tools that help make the electric grid more reliable and fire resistant.Install smart technology that helps the electric grid provide more clean, renewable energy.
  • Update cybersecurity to keep the grid safe from hackers and increase the security of customer information.

Q: What is SCE doing to mitigate rate impacts? 
In this cycle, SCE proposes to keep its non-wildfire spending relatively flat compared to the company’s most recent prior rate case proposals. SCE is also moderating its pace for planned power grid upgrades as it directs resources toward the urgent work needed to reduce wildfire risk. 

Q: Can customers participate in the rate case?
Yes. Hearing from customers is an important and valued part of the rate case process. Customers are welcome and encouraged to attend at public participation hearings the commission will schedule across SCE’s service area during the rate case process. (For information, go to www.cpuc.ca.gov.) Customers are also represented throughout the proceeding by the CPUC's Public Advocates Office, The Utility Reform Network and other consumer advocacy organizations. 

Q: When does SCE expect a decision from the CPUC on its 2021 rate case?
The rate case process often takes 12 to 18 months, and sometimes longer, before the commission issues a final decision.

Learn more at:
Fact Sheet: What is Southern California Edison’s General Rate Case?
Fact Sheet: Wildfire Mitigation Plan