TORRANCE ( — Natural gas prices and a new rate design structure were among the factors cited Wednesday by Southern California Edison (SCE) as officials explained why the utility is raising electricity rates.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports SCE officials say residential customers should expect some changes to their bills this summer.

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Several rate changes already took effect April 1 for SCE customers, including a change to hourly factors and a decreased distribution charge for all residential rates.

Edison officials blamed the rate increase partly on a spike in natural gas prices, but denied that the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was a factor.

SCE’s Russ Worden said the impact on customers is largely dependent on how much power they consume.

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“For the average customer who does not consume much electricity, it’s about $3 a month, but on average overall, it’s about $10 a month,” Worden said.

He cited several factors for why customers’ electricity bills are changing, including the rising cost to generate or buy power and infrastructure investments to deliver safer and more dependable electricity.

Upcoming rate design changes will also spread costs more evenly among all SCE customers, while currently residents in the hottest areas subsidize low-usage customers, according to Worden.

“It enabled some customers’ bills to be frozen for close to a decade,” he said.

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Under California law, SCE works with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to set rates in a process that is required to be open to the public.