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Guess who made a record $18 billion in profits last year? Who else but PG&E!
PG&E’s Elm Street substation in central Manteca.

Irked about record PG&E bills?

Don’t worry, be happy.

You are helping make history.

PG&E, which just a few short years ago was in the throes of its second bankruptcy in 20 years after killing off 85 customers and burning down 16,000 homes, has hit a historic high for profits.

In the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, they made $18.004 billion in gross profits.

And they owe it all to you and me.

Or should that be we owe all what we have to PG&E.

Keep in mind, PG&E will make even more next year thanks to the 13 percent hike that went into effect Jan. 1.

That doesn’t count a slew of pending rate increase cases lined up like atmospheric rivers at the California Public Utilities Commission ready to soak you for even more money.

Yes, these are giddy times for the convicted felon corporation headquartered at 300 Lakeshore Drive in Oakland.

And you thought when the top brass at the for-profit utility proclaimed a few years back that PG&E “needed to do better you”, they meant by their customers.

Just for laughs, here’s a recap of PG&E gross profits going back to 2010:

$8.652 billion in 2010

$9.623 billion in 2011.

$10.017 billion in 2012.

$9.614 billion in 2013.

$10.521 billion in 2014.

$11.071 billion in 2015.

$12.286 billion in 2016.

$12.080 billion in 2017.

$12.260 billion in 2018.

$13.300 billion in 2019.

$14.571 billion in 2020.

$16.261 billion in 2021.

$16.824 billion in 2022.

$18.004 billion in 2023.

And even before rates were raised 13 percent on Jan. 1, PG&E was tracking for a massive surge in profits based on the fourth quarter (October through December) of 2023.

They reported gross profits of $4.884 billion, an 18.98 percent increase over the same three-month period in 2022.

Even without the rate increase that shocked you when you opened your February PG&E statement, PG&E was on pace to blow past the $20 billion mark in terms of annual gross profits.

The record profits are courtesy, for the most part, of legislators in Sacramento that have put in place aggressive green energy initiatives.

They don’t come cheap, which doesn’t bother PG&E or their fellow for profit California utilities.

That’s because state law has guaranteed PG&E and their counterparts an 11 percent return that is built into each rate increase.

Keep in mind, there is nothing stopping them from cutting corners to squeeze out bigger returns.

Such corners in the past have included wildlife prevention maintenance.

Going back on promises they made to get previous rate increases, as it turned out, was a very profitable move for PG&E.

It is because failure to perform adequate maintenance and keep on top of wildfire prevention measures led to one of several planned rate increases to “harden” PG&E power lines to reduce the company’s exposure to wildfire liabilities.

That means the first such “system hardening” spurred rate increase we have just started to savor in the first billing for post Jan. 1 services that ultimately will cost $15.8 billion means PG&E has the ability to pocket in excess of $1.6 billion in additional gross profit.

You’ve probably already noticed that the $15.8 billion in additional money for hardening the system over the next years is $2.2 billion less that PG&E’s gross profits for 2023.

In other words, PG&E could do all of the work with the 13 percent rate increase from their gross profits last year and still make money.

But wait, there’s more.

PG&E corporate records show that in a 10-year period ending in 2017, they didn’t pay a single penny in federal taxes.

And thanks to various corporate tax laws they helped lobby for back in DC that were favorable to public utilities, they actually netted $1.7 billion in tax credits over the 10-year period.

That’s right. You and I paid taxes. PG&E paid none and got checks totaling $1.7 billion from Uncle Sam.

It is against that backdrop that PG&E every year issues press releases bragging about how much they pay a year to California counties in the form of property taxes.

Last year, it was $678 million.

Believe it or not, there are legislators irked that the rising PG&E rates has led to constituents inundating them demanding they take the foot off the pedal for various green initiatives  that are draining their bank accounts via energy costs.

Who would have thought imposing green mandates on an accelerated schedule would raise energy rates even faster?

But then again this is the same California Legislature filled with economic and financial geniuses that the independent legislative analyst on Tuesday indicated has actually racked up a budget deficit of $73 billion compared to an earlier estimate of $58 billion.

It is clear to everybody but politicians in Sacramento that happily take PG&E campaign donations that it is time the state pulls the plug on PG&E.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District, after spending a good 20 years in the first half of the 20th century breaking free of PG&E, just like South San Joaquin Irrigation District is working to do today, as of Dec. 31, 2023 has electricity rates that are 61 percent lower that PG&E rates.

Californians can no longer afford for-profit utilities.

Gov. Newsom and the state Legislature didn’t do the right thing when they had the rattlesnake that PG&E is up against the wall before the last bankruptcy proceedings.

PG&E is alive, well, and more profitable  than ever before because Sacramento let them get up off the mat instead of going down for the count.

This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at