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State Utilities Regulator Wants Customer Input About PG&E's Proposed Rate Increase

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Laura Tsutsui
/
Valley Public Radio
Fresno resident Mary Curry spoke before an administrative law judge with the state Public Utilities Commission to oppose Pacific Gas & Electric's proposed rate increase. If the comission approves, the increase would take effect in 2020.

The California Public Utilities Commission is holding forums around the state to get feedback from Pacific Gas & Electric customers about the company’s proposed rate hike. It’s a process most utilities undergo every three years.  

PG&E is asking its regulator, the CPUC, to approve a rate increase that would add a billion dollars to the company’s revenue in 2020. The utility says the increase is to cover operating costs and to fund a wildfire safety program. 

“I think, really, we're having to pay for the cost of all these incidents that PG&E has had,” says Mary Curry, a Fresno resident who attended the meeting. “They can call it fire safety if they want to, but it’s us paying for fires that PG&E was negligent in taking care of.”

PG&E was found responsible for the Camp Fire last November that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. The company has since filed for bankruptcy, but PG&E says the rate increase won’t fund claims related to that.

Curry says this is the second time she’s tried to protest a rate increase from PG&E. 

“And I'm not sure it's made a difference, but I keep doing it because somebody's got to speak for us, you know?” says Curry. “We don't have alternatives. If I had another company I could use, that would create some competition and I would use them.”

PG&E estimates the rate increase would add about ten and a half dollars a month to typical residential bills. If the regulator approves the increase, it could take effect next year.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.