May 16, 2021
Report: Lower income households spend more for utilities
SAN FRANCISCO – (INT) – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued its first Affordability Report on utility services for Californians.

It found that 11 percent of lower income households in the state spend more than a third of their income on utilities, after housing costs are accounted for. These areas include parts of Oakland, Stockton, Fresno, Modesto, Tulare, Bakersfield, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles.

Findings for 2019 for low-income households in the 20th percentile:
• Electricity: Over 13 percent of Californians spend more than 15 percent of their income on utilities, after housing costs are accounted for. This includes parts of Chico, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Joaquin Valley, where incomes are extremely low.
• Natural Gas: 6 percent of households pay over 10 percent.
• Water: Lower income households in rural areas are extra burdened by high essential service charges, and higher-than-average water costs.
• Communications: A stark digital divide from a lack of affordable telephone and broadband services is prevalent across the state, particularly in places with high cost of service areas.

A CPUC white paper found that energy bills for most California consumers increased faster than inflation over the past decade, and could rise by as much as 4.5% annually for consumers in hotter regions between now and 2030.

The Affordability Report is part of the CPUC’s continued examination of utility rate increases.
Story Date: May 11, 2021
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