Experts explain increase in Bay Area utility bills, future rate hikes to watch out for

Lyanne Melendez Image
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Experts explain high Bay Area utility bills, projected increases
The price of utility bills in the Bay Area continue to increase. Experts explain why, and more future changes to expect with companies like PG&E.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- High gas prices continue to have an impact on people's lives, and now many of you will see an increase in your utility bills.

People joke about everything going up except wages. There's a lot of truth to that.

"Every ounce of overtime I can get, I gotta seize that," said James Walker of Oakland.

For people living in San Francisco, a temporary five percent water price increase will go into effect on April 1.

RELATED: PG&E customers could be hit with rate hike of more than $760 over 2 years

Because we're so good at conserving water, the SF Public Utilities Commission has a problem. Less water usage means the SFPUC is not getting the revenue expected.

"I'm just going to have to budget better," said a San Francisco resident, who identified herself only as Emma.

And then there's PG&E. On March 1, the average residential customer experienced another price hike of 9% driven by the increased costs of purchasing electricity.

Because that increase just went into effect, customers are not yet able to compare one bill against the other.

But TURN, The Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group says it doesn't end there. In 2023 PG&E will ask for another 30% increase.

"Wildfire mitigation costs including undergrounding 3,600 miles of electrical lines," anticipated Mark Toney, executive Director of TURN.

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"The entire economy from the point of consumption, production, employment, everything gets dragged down," said Kai Ding, who is an associate professor of Economics at California State University East Bay.

There are things you can do to lower your power bill. Conserve during the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. and for your water bill, ask the SFPUC to do an outdoor evaluation.

"Take a look at their plants, irrigation, point out where they can save water," explained Julie Ortiz of the SFPUC.

Next month, the utility company will resume its indoor water wise evaluation program free of charge.

For more information on the evaluation program and other drought-related resources, visit here.