PG&E power, gas bills could go up if CPUC approves hike

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The public had an opportunity to weigh in on PG&E's latest request for more money. Yes, expect your power and gas bill to go up if the California Public Utilities Commission approves the hike.

PG&E executives came prepared to listen to their customers and try to convince them that the utility needs more money for wildfire protection.

First came assurances from PG&E's new CEO, Bill Johnson.

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"That means it doesn't go toward the pay of my colleagues or me," he explained.

The money would go toward their new wildfire safety operations center that opened in March, which includes weather stations and cameras in high risk areas.

PG&E would also replace power poles with more resilient ones and would add covered power lines.

And finally, the utility has plans to manage vegetation around those poles.

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"I don't even know how many millions of trees in our system that could potentially contact our wires so we are really increasing the work we are doing around vegetation management to prevent those types of contacts," said Lynsey Paulo, a PG&E Spokesperson.

PG&E later told us, according to their calculations, 120 million trees pose a risk to power lines.

To do this work, PG&E wants to increase revenue by more than $1 billion in 2020, that's a 12.4 percent increase, and $454 million by 2021 and $486 million by 2022.

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PG&E assured customers on Tuesday they would pay about $10 more a month the first year, if they live in a typical residential home.

The Utility Reform Network reminded everyone more increases are imminent.

"This proposal comes on top of other rate increases currently being proposed by PG&E," Constance Slider Pierre of TURN.

She's right. Last April the CPUC voted to allow PG&E to recover some of the expenses incurred back in 2016 and 2017 when the utility had to prune, cut back and remove dead or dying trees because of the state's severe drought. Customers will see several increases to their bill over time.

"That's a lot of money for someone who works for a living and lives in the Bay Area. I'm totally opposed to this," said PG&E customer Jeff Powers.

The CPUC will hold public forums for PG&E customers to give their perspective and input to the CPUC regarding the utility's rate case request. Go here for a schedule if you'd like to attend.

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