PG&E wants customers to pay for safety project

February 29, 2012 7:20:43 AM PST
PG&E has decided its customers should pay for inspections and improvements to make sure that a San Bruno type explosion and fire can't happen again. The utility says customers should pay the lion's share of the $5 billion cost. PG&E is asking its customers to pay nearly $2 billion of the $2.2 billion safety improvement project.

The utility company contends the bulk of the bill should fall on customers - because the regulations that mandate the improvements are new. The state public utilities commission implemented them last June in response to the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion. And PG&E claims it has already committed to $1 billion in post San Bruno upgrades.

Here's the break-down PG&E wants to see: the first phase of the pipeline improvement project is expected to cost $2.2 billion -- but it could reach $5 billion with interest. PG&E is agreeing to pay $360 million - leaving customers holding a $1.84 billion bag.

Consumer advocates say customers should not have to pay, because PG&E has been overcharging them for years and the company should have been maintaining the lines all along. The average customer would see $1.85 more a month on their bill.

PG&E hopes the rate hike will be approved this summer, if approved it would last through 2014. A hearing on the pipeline plan and who should pay for it starts on March 12.


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