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PG&E bills will increase starting next year. Here’s how much and why


About 16 million people in California will see their electric and gas bills increase by an average of more than $32 a month over the next year, in part to allow one of the largest utility companies in the country to bury more of its power lines to reduce the risks of starting wildfires. Pacific Gas & Electric had initially asked state regulators for permission to raise rates by more than $38 a month so it could bury 2,100 miles (3,380 kilometers) of power lines in high-risk areas. forest fires. But consumer advocacy groups complained, arguing that PG&E could save ratepayers money while reducing the risk of wildfires by placing a protective cover over power lines instead of burying them. Thursday’s decision by the California Public Utilities Commission sought to find common ground. Commissioners decided to let PG&E bury 1,230 miles (1,979 kilometers) of power lines, which would cost $1.7 billion less than PG&E’s proposal. The commission rejected a proposal from two administrative judges that would have allowed PG&E to bury only 200 miles (322 kilometers). kilometers) of power lines while installing protective coverage on 1,800 miles (2,897 kilometers) of power lines. “As a commission, we have fought hard about the additional hardship these increases will create for families,” said Commissioner John Reynolds, who wrote the regulators’ proposal. approved. “I can say that I am confident that you will get something out of this investment.” PG&E said 85% of the increase was to improve the safety of its gas and electric operations. It says typical bills will increase by about $32.50 next year, followed by an increase of $4.50 in 2025 before decreasing by $8 per month in 2026. For low-income customers who have entitled to reduced rates, PG&E said typical monthly bills will increase by $21.50 next year. , followed by an increase of $3 per month in 2025 before decreasing by $5.50 per month in 2026. “We are committed to being the safe carrier that Californians expect and deserve,” said Patti Poppe, CEO of PG&E, in a written statement. “We appreciate the Commission recognizing the significant safety and reliability investments we are making on behalf of our customers, including burying power lines to permanently reduce the risk of wildfires.” Electricity rates have risen in California over the past decade, largely because utility companies are rushing to upgrade their aging infrastructure to prevent wildfires. PG&E’s residential rates have more than doubled since 2006, according to The Utility Reform Network, a ratepayer advocacy group. The turning point for PG&E came in 2018 when a windstorm destroyed one of its power lines in the Sierra Nevada foothills and sparked a wildfire. . Within hours, the fire spread to Paradise, where it destroyed most of the town and killed 85 people. PG&E ultimately pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and filed for bankruptcy after facing more than $30 billion in damages related to the Paradise Fire. and other fires started by its equipment. The company has committed to burying 16,093 kilometers of power lines over the next decade. The five members of the commission, appointed by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, unanimously approved the rate increase while expressing concern for taxpayers. “The rates we charge taxpayers are increasing at a rate that will become unaffordable in the very near future unless we find mechanisms to better control costs,” Commissioner Darcie Houck said. Before the vote, dozens of people called the commission to complain that PG&E’s rates are already unaffordable, with one woman testifying that she doesn’t watch TV or turn on the pilot light on her gas stove because she can’t afford it. Cheryl Maynard, who identified herself as a survivor of the Paradise Fire, called “PG&E is clawing back our settlements by raising rates. This has to stop,” she said. Previous coverage of PG&E bill rates CPUC delays vote on proposed PG&E rate increases Regulators want to scale back PG&E’s $6 billion proposal to bury power lines New data shows PG&E rates rise as utilities demand to regulators another rate hikeSee ​​more coverage of California’s top news here | Download our app.

About 16 million people in California will see their electric and gas bills increase by an average of more than $32 a month over the next year, in part to allow one of the largest utility companies in the country to bury more of its power lines to reduce the risks of starting wildfires.

Pacific Gas & Electric had initially asked state regulators for permission to raise rates by more than $38 a month so it could bury 2,100 miles (3,380 kilometers) of power lines in high-risk areas. forest fires. But consumer advocacy groups complained, arguing that PG&E could save ratepayers money while reducing the risk of wildfires by placing a protective cover over power lines instead of burying them.

Thursday’s decision by the California Public Utilities Commission sought to find common ground. Commissioners decided to let PG&E bury 1,230 miles (1,979 kilometers) of power lines, which would cost $1.7 billion less than PG&E’s proposal.

The commission rejected a proposal from two administrative judges that would have allowed PG&E to bury only 200 miles (322 kilometers) of power lines while installing protective cover on 1,800 miles (2,897 kilometers) of power lines.

“As a commission, we have fought hard about the additional hardship these increases will create for families,” said Commissioner John Reynolds, who wrote the proposal approved by regulators. “I can say that I am confident that you will get something out of this investment.”

PG&E said 85% of that increase was to improve the safety of its gas and electric operations. It says typical bills will increase by about $32.50 next year, followed by an increase of $4.50 in 2025 before decreasing by $8 per month in 2026.

For low-income customers who receive reduced rates, PG&E said typical monthly bills will increase by $21.50 next year, followed by an increase of $3 per month in 2025 before decreasing by $5.50 $ per month in 2026.

“We are committed to being the safe operator that Californians expect and deserve,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a written statement. “We appreciate the Commission recognizing the significant safety and reliability investments we are making on behalf of our customers, including burying power lines to permanently reduce the risk of wildfires. “

Electricity rates have risen in California over the past decade, largely because utility companies are rushing to upgrade their aging infrastructure to prevent wildfires. PG&E’s residential rates have more than doubled since 2006, according to The Utility Reform Network, a ratepayer advocacy group.

The turning point for PG&E came in 2018 when a windstorm destroyed one of its power lines in the Sierra Nevada foothills and sparked a wildfire. Within hours, the fire spread to Paradis, where it destroyed most of the city and killed 85 people.

PG&E ultimately pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and filed for bankruptcy after facing more than $30 billion in damages related to the Paradise Fire and other fires started by its equipment . The company has committed to burying 16,093 kilometers of power lines over the next decade.

The five members of the commission, appointed by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, unanimously approved the rate increase while expressing concern for taxpayers.

“The rates we charge taxpayers are increasing at a rate that will become unaffordable in the very near future unless we find mechanisms to better control costs,” said Commissioner Darcie Houck.

Before the vote, dozens of people called the commission to complain that PG&E’s rates were already unaffordable, with one woman testifying that she didn’t watch TV or turn on the pilot light on her gas stove because she didn’t have the means.

Cheryl Maynard, who identified herself as a Paradise fire survivor, called the rate hikes “outrageous” and accused the company of trying to secretly recoup billions of dollars it paid to wildfire victims as part of a settlement.

“PG&E is clawing back our settlements by raising rates. This must stop,” she said.

Coverage of previous PG&E billing rates

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