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.