PG&E wants you to pay just under $12 more a month to upgrade its natural gas and eclectic distribution systems to enhance reliability and safety.
The California Public Utilities Commission would like to know what you think of the PG&E rate hike during a public participation hearing Monday at 7 p.m. in the Stockton City Hall council chambers, 425 N. El Dorado St., in Stockton. While actual commissioners rarely attend such public participation hearing, CPUC staff members will be on hand.
PG&E’s modernization plans cover a wide range of programs, including installation of “smart grid” circuits to limit electrical outages, deployment of state-of-the-art equipment to detect gas leaks, accelerated replacement of gas pipelines, implementation of new safety regulations for hydroelectric and nuclear generating facilities, and improved staffing of call centers to reduce customer wait times.
The rate increases cover the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. PG&E projects the money they collect and spend will support 39,000 jobs in California and pump $9 billion into the economy via the money ratepayers send to them. PG&E points out that the rate increase will come out to just under 40 cents a day for customers.
Earlier this week, a CPUC audit showed that PG&E did not spend $50 million between 2003 and 2010 on system enhancements. The CPUC allowed PG&E to collect that money on the promise it would go to system and safety enhancement. PG&E has indicated it can’t account for exactly where the money went.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier on May 16, 2011 distributed a CPUC staff report that showed that between 1985 and 1997 PG&E collected $183 million for natural gas line safety improvements that they failed to spend. It included money to replace the San Bruno pipeline that exploded and killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood.
PG&E has distributed graphs comparing PG&E rates over the five years from 2009 to 2014 (including two years of projections) with the cost of gasoline, medical drugs and the consumer price index for their service territory.
The PG&E data contends residential rates for PG&E customers will have increased only 13 percent during the five years compared to 14 percent for the consumer price index. Medial drugs will have jumped 15 percent and gasoline close to 35 percent.