EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (November 20, 2023) – In a pivotal decision, California energy regulators have given Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) the nod to implement a $6 billion rate increase proposal aimed at fortifying wildfire prevention measures. The move, though met with approval from regulators, is expected to result in an estimated monthly average customer rate increase of about $40.
The utility giant, grappling with the repercussions of past wildfires linked to its infrastructure, intends to utilize the funds to bury more than 1,200 miles of power lines underground in regions identified as highly susceptible to wildfires. The ambitious plan is part of PG&E’s broader strategy to mitigate fire risks and invest in sustainable, clean energy initiatives.
While the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) endorsed the rate increase, they did exercise caution. Regulators expressed reservations about the utility’s initial proposal, citing concerns over its high cost and the feasibility of completing the extensive infrastructure work within the stipulated timelines.
“The alternate proposed decision reflects our expectation that PG&E must substantially drive down risks from its infrastructure and improve overall safety for ratepayers,” remarked Alice Busching Reynolds, President of the CPUC.
The approved rate increase will translate to an average bump of about $30 per month on customers’ bills starting next year. This decision underscores the delicate balance between addressing urgent wildfire prevention needs and managing the financial burden on consumers.
PG&E, which has been under heightened scrutiny for its role in wildfires, sees this rate increase as a crucial step in bolstering the resilience of its power infrastructure. The company aims to navigate the fine line between protecting communities from devastating wildfires and ensuring affordability for its customers.
As California continues to grapple with the increasing threat of wildfires, the regulatory green light for PG&E’s rate hike reflects an ongoing effort to strike a sustainable equilibrium between utility safety enhancements and consumer financial considerations. The path ahead will test PG&E’s ability to execute its wildfire prevention initiatives effectively while keeping the economic impact on customers in check.