SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — PG&E customers will likely be paying close to $100 a year more after the California Public Utilities Commission approved the latest rate hike.
The utility will bring in more than $2.3 billion with the new general rate hike. Spokeswoman Brandi Ehlers says PG&E will spend that money to upgrade its entire system.
“That includes upgrading our smart switches, so we can have less customers impacted by outages, and it also includes the acceleration of replacing out distribution pipeline,” she said.
For those upgrades, the typical household will pay an additional $7.50 a month for gas and electric service, adding up to $90 a year.
“I think it’s getting a little bit out of hand,” said Isabelly Caulby, who is a senior on a fixed income.
But the rate may go even higher, as the utility giant wants to raise more money for gas storage and pipeline upgrades. That would mean monthly bills could jump an additional $5.23.
Combined with the first increase, a typical family will pay almost $153 dollars more a year.
“I think I’m going to have to buy me some candles,” Caulby said.
PG&E denies that the rate increase is directly tied to the deadly 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. The utility faces criminal charges and a $2.25 billion fine for the explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.
Ehlers says many of the newly funded programs aim to avoid a similar tragedy.
“This is not about remedying the past, it’s about moving forward and making sure we can invest in a 21st century infrastructure for our customers,” she said
Some say the rate hikes are necessary if it means avoiding accidents like the San Bruno pipeline explosion.
“I just hope they don’t make it too expensive, but I understand the need of having the safety here in Sacramento,” said Kelly Pineta.
But for seniors on a fixed income, the price spike means tough choices will have to be made.
The rate increase will start in September for both gas and electric customers. The additional spike for gas will be decided on next year.