PG&E rates for electricity and natural gas for a typical residential customer will rise by $32.62, or nearly 13%, following a California Public Utilities Commission decision made Thursday in southern California.
The new rates will become effective on Jan. 1, 2024, although PG&E says customers may not see the change in their bill until February depending on their billing cycle.
CPUC commissioners gave PG&E ratepayers a small break with Thursday’s decision. The mammoth utility had asked for a nearly 18% increase, which would have raised a typical residential bill by $38.73.
Rate Hike Will Pay for Improved Safety, Reliability: PG&E
PG&E sought the increase to pay for improving its safety and reliability. A significant investment in undergrounding electric lines to reduce wildfire risk was among the top priorities in PG&E’s request.
“I am proud of today’s decision because it represents the CPUC’s commitment to finding a reasonable balance in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances and competing objectives,” said Commissioner John Reynolds in a news release.
“This decision ultimately represents both a historic investment in PG&E’s electric and natural gas systems as well as an expectation that PG&E must continue to be safer and more efficient.”
Said PG&E CEO Patti Poppe: “Undergrounding is the best tool in the highest fire-risk areas to protect our customers and hometowns and improve reliability year-round at the lowest cost to our customers.”
For the record: Poppe made $14,107,324 in salary, bonuses, and stock awards in 2022, according to salary.com.
PG&E Electricity Rates Already Twice the National Average
Even before Thursday’s hikes, PG&E customers were paying more than twice the national average for electricity. And, according to the Public Advocate’s electric rates report, since 2014 PG&E’s rates have skyrocketed by more than 75%, while the rate of inflation was less than 30%.
This year alone, PG&E customers have seen their bills climb by $80 a month.
The new rates coming on Jan. 1 are “just the tip of the iceberg” because PG&E has multiple rate hike increases on the table, Mark Toney told GV Wire earlier this month. “Each increase gets stacked on top of previous increases.”
TURN estimates that in the hottest parts of the state, such as the Valley, customers will face monthly bills of more than 24% of their disposable income next year.
Tips to Reduce Your Utility Bill
PG&E offers both free and low-cost programs to help their customers reduce energy use and better manage monthly energy bills. There is also financial help for income-eligible customers. For example:
- Check your rate plan – get a personalized Rate Plan Comparison to find the best rate plan for your personal energy use.
- Take a free five-minute Home Energy Checkup to identify wasted energy sources and get a personalized savings plan.
- Enroll in Budget Billing to spread out costs throughout the year.
- Receive Bill Forecast Alerts when your bill is projected to exceed an amount set by you so you can reduce energy use ahead of the next bill.
- Customers may qualify for bill assistance including:
- California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) provides a monthly discount of 20% or more on gas and electricity.
- Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) provides a monthly discount of 18% on electricity only. Must be a household of three or more people.
- AMP is a debt forgiveness plan for eligible residential customers who may have experienced pandemic-related hardship.