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PG&E wants to increase power bills by almost 10 percent

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POSTED July 24, 2009 2:20 a.m.
Exploding transformers in San Francisco are in part going to drive up your PG&E rates by almost 10 percent over the next three years.

PG&E notified the California Public Utilities Commission that it will make a formal request in December to raise rates by 6.5 percent in 2011, 1.4 percent in 2012, and 1.8 percent in 2012.

PG&E says it needs the extra $500 million a year to augment $2.2 billion it already spends on making repairs to the power grid as well as updating its aging equipment. The utility just recently had two major underground transformers in San Francisco drawing the ire of many of its customers. The utility also has the worst blackout record of any of the major power suppliers in California.

The average PG&E residential customers will see their electrical bills rise $2.20 to $76.287 while the average customer with a large home will see their  costs go up $16.80 to $180.48 under examples provided by PG&E. Power costs, though, are higher in the Central Valley where many residents run air conditioning during the heat of the summer.

The proposed rate hike will require the City of Manteca to ultimately cough up another $110,000 a year based on its current power consumption to run the wastewater treatment plant, the water well system, street lights and other municipal power needs.

The proposed rate increase is in addition to one already pending that will cost ratepayers in excess of $2 billion. That money is also earmarked to upgrade the PG&E grid.

Residential users can also expect to see their natural gas bills jump by an average of $3.30 a month.

The cost of generating power has actually dropped. PG&E is expected to submit a rate decrease that will in part offset some of the rate increases they have pending.

PG&E has been averaging two to three annual rate hikes in recent years.

PG&E power rates went up:

• 4 percent on Nov. 1, 2007.

• 4.1 percent on Jan. 1, 2008.

• 6.3 percent on May 1, 2008

• 4.5 percent on Oct. 1, 2008.

• 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2009.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s drive to reduce electrical retails rates 15 percent across the board in Manteca, Ripon and Escalon is still underway. The district has created a mandated document known as a municipal service review to demonstrate how they plan to serve the three communities.

It is a document that will detail exactly the district intends to provide retail electrical services. The document must be completed before the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission can decide whether the district should be allowed to enter the retail power businesses. SSJID, which has been generating wholesale power and delivering it flawlessly to PG&E for almost a half a century, must outline its game plan.

Although it won’t be highly detailed like the huge stacks of documents SSJID has compiled over the years using two different specialized consulting firms to determine the feasibility of going into retail power and if they can indeed cut costs a minimum of 15 percent, it never-the-less will outline enough of the district’s plans to let LAFCO determine whether it is indeed a doable service for the agency to perform.
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