PG&E residential customers starting Tuesday will be paying more for electricity, with a nearly 9% rate hike taking effect.
The increase, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission last month, comes out to about $14 more on the average customer's bill.
The rate hike takes into account the California Climate Credit customers receive in April and October that went up by almost $23 this year.
PG&E says the drought has reduced the amount of cheaper hydroelectric power, and the price of natural gas, which powers energy suppliers' plants, is up about 90% this winter compared to a year ago. The utility says it is just passing through the costs from those suppliers, with no markups, to its customers.
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"So, what we pay for our customers energy supply, both natural gas and electricity, we pass through directly, and we definitely understand it’s challenging," PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty said. "Any increase to our customers' bills is challenging, especially as we consider the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic."
PG&E bills previously went up as recently as January by about 8% to 9%.
"Mind boggling. PG&E increases are a punch in the gut to millions of California residents hurting economically from the pandemic and struggling to get back on their feet," said Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, or TURN. "The CPUC needs to call a timeout on rate increases and make affordable bills a priority."
PG&E bills could go up yet again in the near future. The Mercury News reports that the utility wants to raise $10.5 billion to bury 3,600 miles of power lines, which would represent a rate increase of about $30 a month.