OAKLAND — PG&E electric bills have soared far faster than the already brutally high inflation rate in the Bay Area, an ominous trend that has jolted the company’s customers with increasingly burdensome utility costs.
Even worse, an array of proceedings before the state Public Utilities Commission could result in decisions that shove PG&E monthly bill for electricity and gas services even higher.
The forbidding prospect of higher utility bills arrives at the same time that the Public Advocates Office at the state PUC has released a report detailing the rise in electricity bills for the three major investor-owned utilities in California, including PG&E.
Over a roughly three-year period, PG&E bills for the average residential customer have hopped higher by 38%, or an average of 12.7% in a year, the PUC public advocates reported.
Yet over that same approximately three-year stretch, the Bay Area inflation rate, as measured by the consumer price index, rose by 11.7%, according to this news organization’s review of reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That works out to an average yearly increase of 3.9% in the Bay Area inflation rate, the federal agency reported.
“Electric bills are generally rising due to higher electricity use (air conditioning as an example) and higher overall electricity prices,” the Public Advocates Office stated in its report.
Put another way, PG&E electricity bills are rising three times as fast as the overall inflation rate in the Bay Area.
Oakland-based PG&E said it was reviewing the report from the Public Advocates Office.
“We are working to keep overall customer costs at or below assumed inflation, between 2% and 4%,” said Mike Gazda, a spokesperson for PG&E.
PG&E electricity bills have also skyrocketed over a recent 12-month period when compared with inflation.
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The cost of electricity provided by utility companies in the Bay Area — essentially a proxy for PG&E monthly electric bills — rocketed higher by 12.3% in the region, during the one-year period ending in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Over the same 12 months, the Bay Area inflation rate — while still painfully high — rose by 3.4%, the federal agency reported.
“We reduced our operating costs by 3% in 2022, and are currently managing 125 projects companywide to further reduce costs,” Gazda said.
During the most recent three years, the other two major California utilities are also showing outsized increases in electricity bills. One of the major utilities topped PG&E’s 38% bill increase while the other saw bills rise at a slower pace.
Southern California Edison, which serves the Los Angeles County region, burdened its customers with an increase of 44%. San Diego Gas & Electric, which serves the San Diego County area, produced an increase of 35% in electric bills.
People who might have the toughest time paying higher electricity bills are being jolted badly by the rising costs.
“Low-income households are most disproportionately impacted by higher rates and bills,” the Public Advocates Office stated.