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Bay Area PG&E bills are more than double the national average, new report says

A study by the Public Advocate’s Office at the California Public Utilities Commission found monthly electric bills over the past three years have gone up about 38% for PG&E customers

The new report comes ahead of a major decision for PG&E next week.

“As that continues to increase and outpace inflation, it makes it harder and harder for households, particularly those that are more economically vulnerable, to budget,” said CPUC public advocates Mike Campbell.

The report also found residential electricity prices in the Bay Area are more than twice the national average.

The utility company is requesting to raise monthly bills by about 22%. For the average residential customer, that’s about $50 more a month.

“As that continues to increase and outpace inflation, it makes it harder and harder for households, particularly those that are more economically vulnerable, to budget,” Campbell said.

PG&E says most of the additional money would be used to mitigate wildfire risk. Allowing them to put hundreds of miles of power lines underground.

“We’re talking [$750 million] people are behind on their bills now and we see profits going higher and higher at PG&E,” said Mark Toney with the Utility Reform Network.

The Utility Reform Network advocates for ratepayers. Toney says if the price of electricity keeps rising it won’t just affect your monthly budget. It will also mean people won’t be incentivized to trade gas cars for electric ones.

“The California Public Utilities Commission needs to make a decision. Is the point of PG&E to provide reliable, clean, safe, and affordable energy? Or is to provide a gravy train for wall street investors,” Toney said.

While the company is asking for a 22% monthly bill increase, the utilities commission has countered with a proposal that would cut that request in half.

The CPUC could vote on any possible rate hike will be allowed on Nov. 2.

PG&E officials released the following statement on Friday:

“We recognize our responsibility to serve our customers safely and reliably, while working to stabilize bills for the long term. We are working to keep overall customer costs at or below assumed inflation, between 2 and 4%. We reduced our operating costs by 3% in 2022, and are currently managing 125 projects companywide to further reduce costs.

Since 2018, PG&E has invested on behalf of customers to make our energy system safer, more reliable and resilient. This includes investments in wildfire mitigation, system hardening and undergrounding, gas and electric risk reduction, and customer and connections. We are undergrounding 350 miles of powerlines by end of this year alone as part of our commitment to underground 10,000 miles of electric lines to help reduce the risk of major wildfires and address the challenge of climate change. This work is unprecedented and represents the largest effort in the U.S. to underground power lines as a wildfire risk reduction measure.

We’re here to help all of our customers save money by working with them to find the best rate plan for their household, sharing no- and low-cost actions to help them reduce energy usage and better manage monthly bills, and offering assistance programs for income-eligible customers.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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