PG&E customers could see lowered, fixed power bills with CPUC's proposal

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, March 30, 2024
PG&E customers could see lowered, fixed bills with new proposal
PG&E customers could see lowered and fixed electricity bills with CPUC's new proposal. Here's how much you could pay.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At the historic Orinda Theatre, the past few weeks have been anything but business as usual.

Owner Derek Zemrak says he made the decision to close the theater on Mondays and Tuesday after receiving a PG&E bill for nearly $6,300, almost double what he normally pays.

"I was shocked. I knew PG&E had raised rates for commercial properties. I just didn't realize it was going to be that high," Zemrak said.

The skyrocketing bills aren't just hitting Zemrak.

MORE: After rate hikes this year, PG&E announces nearly 25% increase in profits to $2.2B for 2023

To tackle the issue, the California Public Utilities Commission is proposing a new $24 fixed charge on monthly electric bills.

The Utility Reform Network, or TURN, says it's a move that would likely reduce the rates customers pay for power by anywhere from 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

"It's going to make utility bills more affordable for low-income households and reduce the volatility of month-to-month bills. And it will promote electrification," said TURN's Matthew Freedman.

Several people in Orinda told us they would support the proposal.

MORE: CPUC unanimously approves new PG&E rate hike to cover wildfire mitigation projects

Some pointing to the record profits PG&E made last year.

"We went from something in the order of 300 to 450. And I'm living with a low-income person right now and it's really difficult," said Paul Davis of Morag.

The proposed flat rate wouldn't have an impact on businesses like the Orinda Theatre.

But Zemrak says he hopes something can be done to help him and others like him.

MORE: PG&E claims there is no connection between rate increases, $2.2 billion jump in earnings

"Right now, we feel like the Mondays and Tuesdays might be something. We'll see how it goes, but yeah there would have to be some adjustments. You can't be self-funding it forever," he said.

When we reached out to PG&E for a response, they referred us to a statement by the Predictable Power Coalition, a group that includes the state's three biggest utilities.

That statement says the group views the proposed decision as a step in the right direction, and that they look forward to continuing the conversation.

A welcome response for people like Freedman, who says regulators have a lot more work to do to make bills more affordable.

"PG&E is spending too much money. Collecting too much in profits and not being held accountable for its mismanagement of the system," he said.

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