California lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow electric utilities to charge consumers for certain types of services such as water, phone calls and sewer services.
The proposed bill, Senate Bill 4, is a response to a series of lawsuits filed by the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group representing the state’s electric utilities.
The group says that California’s electric bills are among the highest in the country.
Under the bill, utilities would be allowed to charge customers for certain water, sewer, phone and other services, which are currently free of charge.
Utility companies would also be allowed charge customers additional fees to cover certain costs.
The bill also would provide for more transparency and a mechanism for consumers to appeal the charging decisions, as well as a mechanism to ensure the bills reflect the full cost of the service, the Edison group said in a statement.
The bills would also allow consumers to file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission if they believe they have been overcharged.
The proposal is expected to be approved by the Senate Finance Committee later this month.
The measure was introduced after a series in recent years of lawsuits brought by the California Edison Electric Agency and the California Public Utilities Association (CPUCA).
The Edison groups say that California has the highest electric bills in the nation.
The CPUCA said that it will file a legal challenge to the legislation, arguing that the bills are an unconstitutional attempt to impose higher costs on consumers.