With all the attention California politicians are putting into the Russian collision investigation you would think that everything would be running smoothly in the state that they represent, but recent rate hikes and dishonest billing practices are causing electricity costs to climb to more than many peoples mortgage payment – and forcing families to flee the state.

****SCT Staff Special**** California has historically had the highest population growth rates of other states in the nation, until recently.  Although California still maintains a positive rate of growth, it is only because of the high birth rate in the state of 40 million inhabitants. Overall, more people are leaving the state than those who are relocating to it – over overly onerous taxes, over regulation and a political culture that is steeped deep in corruption.

Texas has received the majority of disenchanted Californians but every border state of the golden state has received a massive surge of people who have fled the west coast to live a higher standard of lifestyle in a more economical location.

The biggest cause for concern for Californians is their electricity bill – but their politicians don’t seem to care.

Pacific Gas and Electric corporation (PG&E) headquartered in the San Francisco district of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has causing widespread carnage all across northern California.  PG&E has given Pelosi and Feinstein a fortune in free money in the form of “donations.”  It is no wonder why PG&E has been allowed to essentially set their own prices, over bill their customers, provide poor service and destroy lives with electricity bills that people just can’t pay.  And it is all done so some rich robber barons in San Fransisco can live a more lavish lifestyle.

Pacific Gas and Electric corporation is one of only a few electric utility companies that are allowed to operate in the state.  They have a monopoly on providing electricity to over 5 million people who live in NorCal.  With a market cap of over 30 billion dollars, PG&E is one of the largest utility companies in the United States.

When PG&E initiated the replacement of analog electrical usage meters a few years ago with so called “smart readers” it set off a firestorm of protests from people who feared the RF signal emissions that transmits usage date wirelessly to the utility company was causing severe health problems and even cancer. Customers who declined to retrofit their homes were billed a separate opt-out fee and soon found that their electric bills began to fluctuate and steadily rise to an amount that many people just could not afford.  Then it was discovered that the company was just making up the amount of the bill that they were charging some customers, and not related to their actual usage.  Practices like this would normally be considered illegal, but apparently not when you have prestigious politicians in your pocket.

PG&E charges customers based on the amount of energy they use each month as it relates to how much other area customers are using, on a 3 tier system.  Tier 1 pricing is based on the amount of electricity a normal house is assumed to use.  Anyone who exceeds that amount are put into a tier 2 rate plan that changes about 40% more than the tier 1 rate, but the customers who use 4 times the electricity that they are allocated are charged double their normal rate – as a penalty, and to force people to use less energy by harming them financially.  But many times the bills are incorrectly pushing people into the tier 3 rate plan which charges .40 cents per kilowatt hours instead of normal pricing of .20 cents per kilowatt hour.

In an effort to raise profits, electric utilities across California have decided that the easiest way to make more money, besides just faking customer bills and raising fees, is to stop reading the meters.  Electrical companies are now allowed to ESTIMATE the energy usage for analog boxes or for the many smart readers that are not able to connect to the main terminal, therby saving millions is meter reader driver costs.

In an estimated billing scenario, the utility company will typically estimate your bill based on the “homes” usage from the same month a year to two earlier – which might have come from someone who previously lived at the property, or based on completely different electricity needs.

That’s right – your electric company can bill you for the energy someone else might have used at the property two years ago – and not at all related to your current usage.  It’s hard to imagine that this could even be legally allowed, but not when you consider the massive donations that utility companies have paid politicians.

Sometimes the utility company will send drivers out to “true up” the meters and record the supposed actual readings and then, presumably, adjust the bill accordingly but it seem as if this practice forces these customers into the Tier 3 rate plan for almost all of their electrical usage – and even for electricity they never used.

A Lakehead California couple with a small child was shocked last week when they got their new electric bill for over $2,000 for electricity they didn’t use.  When they scrutinized the bill for the first time they realized that it was based on an ESTIMATE from the previous year or two when someone else probably  lived in the house.  PG&E claimed the overcharging was a common issue and they would send someone to read the meter in February, which had not been read since October – so every bill the family received, and paid, from October through February was based on an estimate from the homes usage a year or two earlier, and they were charged at the highest rate possible, as a penalty, as if they were abusing the electrical grid.  The couple in now planning to move to a state that does not take unfair advantage of it’s residents.

Considering the high taxes, over regulation and ever increasing cost of electricity it is no wonder why so many people are leaving the tarnished Golden State of California.