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California regulator allows for the charging of rural areas more for electricity to pay for the prevention of fire

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California’s top utility regulator proposed that the charging of residents in the rural areas, more money for electricity since they are at risk for supply issues arising forest fires, reports on Monday said.

Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, the suggestion during a Jan. 31 meeting of the (fire) safety. He questioned the honesty of all utility customers pay the costs of averting forest fires in rural areas.

“We should really begin to charge differential for the use of the network for the distribution of those parts of it that are in the high-fire-risk zone and the people who choose to live there?” Picker asked, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Picker later told the newspaper that California is faced with the threat of forest fires, even at times that used to be considered safe.

“If you’re in Richmond, you want to pay to protect homes in Napa?”

– The California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Picker

“We bring more to harden the grid and protect people in those areas with a high risk, how are we paying for?” he asked. “If you’re in Richmond, you want to pay to protect homes in Napa?”

The paper reported that it is pricey to prevent a fire in the countryside of California. A number of the measures is cutting down millions of trees, the replacement of wooden poles with steel and burying the lines under the ground.

“Here we are faced with costs for upgrading the grid, especially the benefits of a group of people,” a Voter said. “I’m just trying to come up with ways to figure out how to do this fairly, but still manage to serve the people who live in these high-risk areas. Because, without a doubt, they need electricity.”

The increase of electricity rates for residents living in high-risk areas has never been tried before anywhere in the U.S., according to the report.

“It is a political decision that is quite firmly embedded in the price should be the same where you live,” Mike Florio, who in the California Public Utilities Commission from 2011 to 2016, told the Chronicle.

The residents in the rural areas also do eventually have to pay more extra to the utility companies for the start of the service, especially if the country house is further away from existing power lines. But the price of the electricity remains the same for all people, even when the utilities admit that it is more expensive to provide services to someone who lives in the hinterland.

Any serious consideration to charging rural residents more than their urban counterparts for electricity is sure to lead to a political backlash. Their representatives would certainly object to the initiative.

Florio reminded that the unpopular fire prevention fee imposed on rural homeowners in the state was suspended last year after the California Gov. Jerry Brown tried to court the votes of the legislators from rural California, in an attempt to go beyond the state of the coffers of cap-and-trade system.

“The national legislature made the price of their support is getting rid of that fee,” Florio said. “And that was a modest attempt to get the user to pay.”

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