Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reports that energy rates will increase Jan. 1, 2024, to pay for continued safety investments for its customers and hometowns. The California Public Utilities Commission recently approved PG&E’s 2023-2026 General Rate Case. More than 85% of PG&E’s proposed increase, originally submitted in June 2021, was to reduce risk in PG&E’s gas and electric operations.
As part of the general rate case, the CPUC approved placing 1,230 miles of powerlines underground in PG&E’s areas of highest fire risk. According to PG&E, undergrounding is permanent risk reduction that eliminates nearly 98% of risk of wildfire ignition from electrical equipment, increases electric reliability by reducing the need for safety-related power shutoffs, and saves customers billions of dollars in reduced annual tree trimming and overhead line maintenance costs.
“We are committed to being the safe operator that the people of California expect and deserve,” said PG&E Corporation CEO Patti Poppe. “We appreciate the commission for recognizing the important safety and reliability investments we are making on behalf of our customers, including undergrounding powerlines to permanently reduce wildfire risk. Undergrounding is the best tool in the highest fire-risk areas to protect our customers and hometowns and improve reliability year-round at the lowest cost to our customers.”
General rate case investments
The general rate case funds the following safety and reliability investments, reports PG&E:
- Undergrounding 1,230 miles of powerlines in PG&E’s areas of highest fire risk. In addition to being the safest, most reliable, and cost-effective solution, undergrounding benefits all customers over the long run through improved air and water quality from fewer fires, protection of wildlands, and improved access to homeowners’ insurance at lower premiums. It is one of PG&E’s multiple layers of protection that have reduced wildfire risk from company equipment by 94%, based on the methodology established by the CPUC in the Safety Model Assessment Proceeding and implemented by PG&E accordingly.
- Replacing 139 miles and 24 miles of plastic and steel distribution pipeline, respectively; inspecting 343 miles of transmission pipeline with state-of-the-art tools that run inside the pipeline; strength-testing 43 miles of gas transmission pipeline to assess integrity and reconfirm the maximum allowable operating pressure; and employing advanced mobile leak detection technology to quickly find and fix gas leaks to improve safety and reduce methane emissions.
- Increasing electric capacity to support the state’s transportation electrification, affordable housing, and economic development goals. Additional electric system investments include grid work to support widespread adoption of electric vehicles to reduce climate change impacts and improve air quality, exploring technologies to use electric vehicles and other energy storage, and microgrid advancements to help improve grid resiliency during extreme weather and periods of peak energy demand.
Help for customers
PG&E offers no- and low-cost actions to help customers reduce energy use and better manage monthly energy bills, and financial assistance programs for income-eligible customers. Customers can take the following actions:
- Check their rate plan and get a personalized rate plan comparison to find the best rate plan for their personal energy use.
- Take a free home energy checkup to identify wasted energy sources and get a personalized savings plan to lower monthly bills in just five minutes.
- Enroll in budget billing to spread out annual energy costs throughout the year to avoid peaks in months of higher use.
- Receive bill forecast alerts when a bill is projected to exceed a set amount, so that a customer can reduce energy use prior to the next bill.
Customers may qualify for bill assistance programs including the following:
- California Alternate Rates for Energy provides a monthly discount of 20% or more on gas and electricity.
- Family Electric Rate Assistance provides a monthly discount of 18% on electricity only for households of three or more people.
- Arrearage Management Program is a debt-forgiveness plan for eligible residential customers who may have experienced pandemic-related hardship.
Customer bill impacts
Customer bills may vary based on where they live, energy usage, rate plan, program enrollment, weather in their region, and other factors. The general rate case will increase typical residential non-CARE monthly combined gas and electric bills by an average of 3.6% over three years. It will increase monthly bills by approximately 12.8% in 2024, and have a net decrease in 2025 and 2026.
For example, the typical bill will increase by approximately $32.50 in 2024 and $4.50 in 2025, then decrease by almost $8 in 2026. For the typical residential CARE customer, the monthly combined bill would increase by an average of 3.8% over three years. Typical bills will increase by about $21.50 in 2024 and $3 in 2025, and decrease by about $5.50 in 2026.
|Annual incremental change||$32.50||$4.50||$(8)|
|% annual change||12.8%||1.6%||-2.8%||3.6%|
|Annual incremental change||$21.50||$3||$(5.50)|
|% annual change||13.1%||1.6%||-2.8%||3.8%|
In addition to the general rate case, PG&E will implement additional rate changes as part of an annual process called the “true-up,” which consolidates rate changes authorized by the CPUC. These amounts will be final at the end of December. Rates take effect Jan. 1, 2024; however, customers may not see the change in their bill until February depending on their billing cycle.
Information submitted by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.