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Supervisors may rally residents to fight yet another big PG&E increase
The PG&E substation on Elm Avenue in central Manteca.

PG&E’s record $13.5 million rate hike granted in mid-November was bad enough, as far as San Joaquin County Supervisor Robert Richman is concerned.

But the utility’s request less than a month later for another $2 billion rate hike crossed over into being “outrageous” and  is not reasonable or acceptable, according to Rickman.

It is why Rickman who represents Ripon, rural south Manteca, Tracy. and Mountain House is asking his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors when they meet Tuesday to register official opposition to the proposed rate hike with the California Public Utilities Commission.

He also wants staff to  devise an effort to inform county residents how they can lodge protest as well with the  CPUC.

“PG&E plans to pass increasing costs on to its customers based on its lack of planning and lack of appropriate care for California infrastructure over the past decades,” Rickman noted.

Worse yet, from Rickman’s perspective, is the cost of burying  power lines to reduce PG&E’s exposure to financial liability from failing to keep their system properly maintained is being placed on ratepayers in San Joaquin County where the wildfire risk is virtual nil.

If PG&E receives approval for their latest rate increase request, an average customer will pay between $50 and $60 more a month in 2024 than they did on their last bill for December not to pay for power used but to pay for burying power lines.

The latest request piggybacks on the 13 percent rate hike approved in mid-November.

 "Every increase that you hear about is just the tip of the iceberg,' The Utility Reform Network executive director Mark Toney said. "And every increase that gets approved by the California Public Utilities Commission stacks on top of each other.
TURN noted PG&E is asking the CPUC to allow them to start collecting the additional $2 billion on an interim basis in  March before the rate request completes the required regulatory review process.

PG&E said 85% of the previously approved November increase was to improve safety in its gas and electric operations. It says typical bills will increase by about $32.50 next year, followed by a $4.50 increase in 2025 before decreasing by $8 per month in 2026.

Ironically, the CPUC immediately after granting the last rate hike posted on their website on Nov. 16 essentially bragging they had only granted PG&E $13.5 billion of the $15.4 billion they requested.

The CPUC website makes a point that they saved consumers $1.8 billion.

The latest rate hike request not only “wipes out” the rate hike reduction the CPUC stressed that they made but it is actually $200 million more.

In reality, it basically covers the $1.8 billion the CPUC trimmed from the November rate hike request and added more to it.

PG&E is pursuing a moonshot proposal to underground at least 10 percent of the utility’s 27,000 miles of above ground wires to reduce the company’s exposure to wildfire losses.

Experts have indicated PG&E will need to jack up rates significantly for such work that is expected to cost billions and billions of dollars.

PG&E wants to underground upwards of 1,000 miles a year. That is a major leap from current efforts to bury 70 miles on an annual basis.

PG&E was forced into bankruptcy for a second time after the largest wildfire its equipment has been blamed for starting killed 85 people and destroyed more than 20,000 structures, most of which were homes of their customers, in and around Paradise.

PG&E pled guilty to 85 counts of manslaughter. The firm has 5 million customers with more than 16 million people depending upon their services.

The CPUC allows PG&E and other for-profit utilities to have a return — basically a profit — that accounts for at least nearly 11 percent of every dollar they collect from customers for transmission and distribution as well as the cost of electricity and gas that is consumed.

That means 11 percent of the already approved $13.8 billion rate hike and 11 percent of the rate hike proposed this will essentially provide PG&E with a more robust profit by adding $1.6 billion to their bottom line.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email