Home>Articles>PG&E Announces Massive 18% Rate Hike Proposal During CA Wildfires

PG&E Announces Massive 18% Rate Hike Proposal During CA Wildfires

Rate hike would bring in an additional $3.6 billion for wildfire, safety improvements if accepted by CPUC

By Evan Symon, July 1, 2021 2:13 am

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced on Wednesday that they submitted a rate hike proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission, asking for a large 18% rise over current energy rates.

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If approved, rates would be moved up by 4%-5% each year beginning in 2023 and ending in 2026. The rate hike, which will bring in an estimated $3.6 billion from 2022 figures to 2023 figures alone, would go to pay for wildfire reduction efforts including expanded tree thinning and brush clearing, the removal of overhead power lines in favor of underground lines, better system safety technology, and electrical line repairs. Other funds coming from the rate hike would also go to other areas where improvements are needed, such as updating gas lines and increasing green energy projects.

PG&E acknowledged the difficult post-pandemic financial straits of many customers in a statement, but also noted the importance of ramped up safety and wildfire reduction efforts.

“We know this is a significant request that comes at a pivotal time when many of our customers are struggling to recover from the pandemic,” stated PG&E vice president of Regulatory and External Affairs Robert Kenney on Wednesday. “While we believe these investments are critical to meet the evolving energy needs of our communities and customers, we won’t stop looking for additional ways to manage costs, and help customers use less energy and lower their bills.”

Since 2018, PG&E has faced multiple lawsuits due to faulty power lines and uncleared brush causing wildfires across California. The largest of which PG&E was deemed responsible for, the 2018 Camp Fire, caused the deaths of 85 people in Paradise, led to several lawsuits costing the company tens of billions of dollars, bankrupted the company, and nearly caused the state to take over the company last year. All the while, rate hikes continued to go up, but only at small increases between 1.5% and 2.7%.

An 18% hike in energy costs

However, with the company still fresh out of bankruptcy and cutting costs wherever it can, including suspending their stock dividend and moving their headquarters to a cheaper location, money is still tight. And due to state pressure to reduce wildfire risk, PG&E decided to greatly increase rate hikes to pay for wildfire reduction measures. New wildfires in Northern California this week, such as the Lava Fire and Tennant Fire, only helped push the companies urgency on Wednesday.

“PG&E has little money to spend after getting out of bankruptcy and has cut a lot of costs in the past year, but they still don’t have the money to pay for a big expansion of wildfire safety measures,” explained James Mahone, a Los-Angeles based financial expert who specializes in energy and utility companies, to the Globe on Wednesday. “In 2017 their stock was north of $70 and was paying out a decent dividend at 3.1%. Now, it’s $10 on a good day and no return of dividends for at least a few years. That tells you how far they have fallen.”

“Drastically increasing rates like this over multiple years is one of their few options left. They’re being closely looked at by the state, so there is little chance of outrageous executive pay. It’s so bad that they need to shut down parts of their grid during high wildfire conditions rather than rely on themselves improving safety, and can’t pay for these safety measures without charging more. The state could relax some measures, but that isn’t happening after Paradise. This is it for them.”

PG&E, who last had a rate increase in March, is expected to hear back from CPUC soon about their decision.

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18 thoughts on “PG&E Announces Massive 18% Rate Hike Proposal During CA Wildfires

  1. So, let me get this straight….

    The management of PG&E have NEGLECTED their system infrastructure maintenance costs, both from a capital improvements & recurring maintenance standpoint, got caught when their systems failed in the wind and basically burned down Paradise, CA and now they expect their CUSTOMERS to pick up the slack for THEIR lack of oversight???

    How do the rate-payers file a class-action lawsuit to prevent this usurious action??? This is STRICTLY on several GENERATIONS of PG&E executive “leadership”, not the rate-payers…. I’m quite sure that the “leaders” paid themselves HANDSOMELY for the “cost savings” and “shareholder value” that they generated by PURPOSELY and WILLFULLY ignoring their fiduciary responsibilities to their customers and the general society….

    Unbelievable – but what would you expect out of San Franfreakshow…..

    1. Do you mean PG&E executive “leadership” like Geisha Williams, the “first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company”? Geisha, who was CEO from March 2017 to January 13, 2019 and then resigned two months after the Camp Fire and immediately before PG&E filed for bankruptcy? Geisha, who after leaving the company received a $2.6 million severance package? Is that the kind of PG&E executive “leadership” that you’re referring to?

    2. Look up the Wall Street Journal’s article about 2 years ago. It’s a well balanced article of why California is burning.

      1. The California Supreme Court ruled that PG&E cannot recoup cost from the the rate payers,so the utility lined the pockets of both parties and Newsom and they passed a bill thumbing their nose at the court giving them the green light to rape the rate payers.

    3. Unfortunately, very believable. Incompetence is rife. CYOA. Screw the rest. Modified Golden Rule – Do unto others.

  2. Another rate hike to pay for repairs and upgrades that past rate hikes were already supposed to have paid for …
    PG&E needs to be dissolved.

  3. This is all part of the “green” plan to stop people from using electrical power. Make it unaffordable so that people can no longer have AC in the summer and heat in the winter.

    If you think the state taking over PG&E is the fix you are out of your mind. Just imagine what Newsolini and his environmental Nazi’s would do to it.

    1. Agree, CW. Just look at what the state is trying to do with masks and vaccines. Big brother controlling your electricity and natural gas too? If THAT happens, I’m definitely out of here. Of course a state takeover of private enterprise is typical of leftist regimes like Venezuela. PG&E does have problems with company leadership (CEO, BOD) like Ted says. But, in addition, the company is not allowed to build new power plants (natural gas, nuclear) – only low output solar and wind. Creating shortages and price inflation is just more and more Marxist social control at work. Stop electing these people to your local utility/water boards and to the legislature.

      1. If PG&E were allowed to run the company in a rational manner instead of a manner dictated by a bunch of radical, foaming at the mouth anti-western civilization “environmentalists” most of their problems would go away. Power rates would drop like a rock and they could concentrate on building and maintaining profitable infrastructure instead of dancing on a “green” string.

  4. PG*E at fault on fires, Customer pays, through deceptive excuse of rate hikes for fixing what past rate hikes were supposed to do.

    PG&E is a SCAM – Money laundering system benefitted by CPUC who represent PG&E – people of CA are not ever represented in anything anymore.

    File PG&E under Gov’t: Ministry of Plenty

  5. If PG&E were allowed to run the company in a rational manner instead of a manner dictated by a bunch of radical, foaming at the mouth anti-western civilization “environmentalists” most of their problems would go away. Power rates would drop like a rock and they could concentrate on building and maintaining profitable infrastructure instead of dancing on a “green” string.

  6. A RICO Investigation is needed., It’s not enough Newsom has forced Californian’s to pay for the murders PG&E and Newsom committed. Californians we need to hold them accountable we are living in worse conditions than China..I’m not saying that as a joke…China has more freedom.

  7. It’s worth asking why pacific power in the north west, lmud in the northeast of California, trinity pud in trinity county, Reu in Redding can all seem to deliver power to the public without killing our neighbors or burning their homes down.
    PGE has made it clear the safety of Californians isn’t their problem.
    Time to look into a replacement with local management.
    Several public utilities have proven its a viable option.

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