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

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, March 1, 2024
No connection between rate increases, $2.2B jump in earnings: PG&E
PG&E representatives at Friday's Coffee Connect event in Pittsburg said there's no connection to rate increases and the utility's earnings.

PITTSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- Nestled into a corner of Pittsburg's Steeltown Coffee, PG&E is buying coffee for customers and answering questions at their ninth Coffee Connect event on Friday morning.

Customers were invited in to ask any questions they wanted, whether it was about recent power outages, storm damage or bills.

"It was just a great way to disarm them and inform them," said Rob Stillwell, a spokesperson for PG&E.

And while the coffee might have brought everyone together, it didn't solve everyone's problems.

"He was very pleasant and answered questions as best he could, but my rate is not going to go down as a result of visiting today. But I am happy that they were here," said Karen Schneider.

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

PG&E announces record profits for 2023 raking in $2.2 billion, a nearly 25 percent increase. This comes after implementing a rate hike in 2024.

Longtime ratepayers like Schneider, a Lafayette resident of more than 34 years, came to find out why her PG&E bill went up again in January.

Before substantial rate hikes took effect Jan. 1, PG&E customers already paid some of the highest energy bills in the country.

"I'm so angry with the whole state of affairs," she said. "Just far beyond what's reasonable and giving money to stockholders and cutting back on the solar program and what they pay out, which kinda killed the whole solar program."

A month after bills went up, PG&E announced its profits for 2023 surged to over $2.2 billion, a jump of almost 25%.

But PG&E representatives at Friday's event said there's no connection to rate increases and their earnings.

MORE: Undergrounding all utilities in SF is nearly impossible, according to officials: Here's why

"A financially healthy utility is a good thing for our customers, because we can borrow and do these infrastructure projects at more affordable rates," Stillwell said. "But the notion that anything coming out of our earnings report is in direct result of the rate increase, is completely false."

Those infrastructure updates include the undergrounding of lines, a major project in the works after PG&E's aging power grid caused dozens of wildfires, some deadly.

But PG&E says the changes made at the state capitol are forcing hikes too.

"A lot of them are state policies that were enacted. There's a lot of public support programs, there are a lot of solar programs that come out of the legislature and get put in, and we're the middle part of the equation," Stillwell said.

MORE: Here's how cold temperatures will impact PG&E rates with rate hike in effect

Still, many customers aren't buying it.

"It's just like those ridiculous programs on TV where you're like 'oh PG&E's your friend,' you know. Like, you're not my friend and why are we paying for TV commercials and coffee?" Schneider said.

In the future, PG&E says they'd like to get one of these Coffee Connect events going at least once a month in different communities across the Bay Area.

In the meantime, if you do need help paying your PG&E bill, there is help available here.

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