Pacific Gas and Electric is seeking rate hikes that will increase gas and electric bills for typical electric and gas residential customers by $58.89 a month.
The rate hike, if granted, would be phased in over four years starting in 2023.
It is one of the highest — if not the highest — rate hike ever sought by the for-profit company that is coming out of its second bankruptcy in 20 years and on target by its own estimation to post record profits in the next few years.
The proposed rate hike does not include what some have described as a PG&E moonshot proposal to underground at least 10 percent of the utility’s 27,000 miles of above ground wires to reduce the company’s exposure to wildfire losses.
Experts have indicated PG&E will need to jack up rates significantly for such work that is expected to cost billions and billions of dollars.
PG&E wants to underground upwards of 1,000 miles a year. That is a major leap from current efforts to bury 70 miles on an annual basis. PG&E was forced into bankruptcy for a second time after the largest wildfire its equipment has been blamed for starting killed 85 people and destroyed more than 20,000 structures, most of which were homes of their customers, in and around Paradise.
The utility pleaded guilty to 85 counts of manslaughter. The firm has five million customers with more than 16 million people depending upon their services.
The $58.89 a month rate hike was calculated by the California Public Utilities Commission based on a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours per month of electricity as well as 33 therms of natural gas a month.
The CPUC allows PG&E and other for-profit utilities to have a return — basically a profit — that accounts for at least nearly 11 percent of every dollar they collect from customers for transmission and distribution as well as the cost of electricity and gas that is consumed.
PG&E submitted its General Rate Case application (A.21-06-021) on June 30, 2021 requesting CPUC approval to increase rates for its electric and natural gas customers over four years, 2023 through 2026. Under PG&E’s proposal, the monthly bill for a typical residential customer, including customers enrolled in the assistance program California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), is estimated to increase by 18 percent in 2023, if approved by the CPUC.
As a result, the monthly electric costs for a typical residential customer (500 kwh/month) would increase by $25.19 in 2023 and an additional $3.94 in 2024, $2.40 in 2025, and $0.72 in 2026. Under PG&E’s request, the monthly natural gas costs for a typical residential customer (33 therms/month) would increase by $10.81 in 2023 and an additional $5.55 in 2024, $5.03 in 2025, and $5.34 in 2026.
The CPUC will hold six remote public forums (otherwise known as Public Participation Hearings) to provide an opportunity for PG&E customers to offer their perspective and input to the CPUC about the company’s rate increase request.
Among the scheduled forums are Tuesday, March 1 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Thursday, March 10, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; (open to all PG&E customers and will focus on PG&E customers in the San Joaquin Valley area), as well as Tuesday, March 22 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Participants who access the forum via webcast-only will just have audio and video but will not be able to make verbal comments. If you want to make live verbal comments during the forum, you must call into the meeting with the call-in information as follows: Phone 800-857-1917, passcode: 6032788#
Further information on public forums is available on the CPUC’s website at: www.cpuc.ca.gov/pph.