SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – A bill just signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will help California utility customers avoid unpleasant surprises in their monthly bills.

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State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo County) said the legislation he authored spreads the cost of gas and electricity out over a longer period of time.

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“It more evenly spreads the cost around. And at the end of the day, it should reduce the cost because people will be put into a tier,” Hill told KCBS “They will jump from Tier 1 to Tier 2 at a later time, so you can use more energy before you jump into that more expensive, that higher rate of Tier 2.”

The law, which takes effect at the first of the year, will also provide a warning to customers whose energy use is creeping up, giving them the option of cutting back in order to avoid extra charges.

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Utility customers also be able to check their usage rates online.