PG&E wants customers to absorb another rate hike 

PG&E wants customers to absorb another rate hike 
Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

Pacific Gas and Electric has filed for bankruptcy and may face penalties, fines, and liabilities worth billions of dollars in connection with recent wildfires. The utility now says it needs another rate hike — to improve the safety of wildfires and attract investors. 

The company, known as PG&E, says its equipment started the 2018 Camp Fire, California’s deadliest and most destructive when a power line touched nearby trees. Now, the company is asking its state regulator to allow it to charge $ 22.67 more per month for electricity and natural gas service to typical California households starting on January 1. The estimate includes applications made to the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday and in December. 

The company says that both proposed rate hikes are necessary, in part, to ensure wildfire safety. It proposes to improve security by installing stronger power poles, clearing branches, installing meters to identify fallen power lines, expanding its network of weather stations, and installing cameras in fire-threatening zones. 

But another part of PG&E’s proposal draws the outrage of customers and politicians as its demand to increase company return on equity, and specifically to boost the profits of investors to align more closely with wildfire-related risk.  

That company’s overall proposal was not received well by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. “In order to generate profits for investors, PG&E is calling for massive increases in costs for ratepayers, while wildfire victims are in bankruptcy.” Newsom’s spokesman, Nathan Click, told the Sacramento Bee on Monday. “The governor strongly believes that for unnecessary increases, ratepayers should not be on the hook as the process of the state plays out.” 

PG&E, the nation’s largest electricity, and natural gas company is not the only electric company in California that makes this kind of request. Both San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison have requested increases in return on equity, citing risk from wildfires to investors. 

Camp Fire Attorneys in Butte County

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a utility-company-related wildfire, we will seek damages on your behalf for the losses you have incurred with absolutely no out-of-pocket expenses from you.

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