Marking Southern California Edison's return to cost-of-service ratemaking, the California Public Utilities Commission approved $73 million in rate increases for the utility July 8. In addition, the decision allows Edison to charge a fee for late bill payments with exceptions for some low-income customers. Edison had asked for $150 million in its first general rate case since 1996; an initial proposed decision would have allowed the company a fraction of that. Top Edison officials lobbied commissioners hard to bump up the rate increase. Investor-owned utilities are just getting back on their feet and "don't have a lot of room for mistakes with [their] cash flow," said commissioner Susan Kennedy, who proposed the middle-ground plan. General rate cases set allowable revenue for utility generation, distribution, and central office functions. In a compromise, Kennedy dropped her proposal to increase Edison\/s depreciation rates, calling them out of date. The adopted plan includes incentives for reaching certain safety and service levels and would grant Edison's request to recover $10.8 million for real-time metering. In line with requests by the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, the record of the case will face review in light of recent admissions by Edison that numerous employees engaged in fraudulent handling of performance surveys.