CALIFORNIA (KION-TV) -- Expect to see your next Pacific Gas & Electric bill get even more expensive — as the utility increases rates by 9% on March 1.
That translates to a monthly increase of about $13.82 a month for the average customer. But it's also the second increase so far this year.
"This 9% is on top of an 8% increase on January 1. So we have almost a 20% increase in the first three months of 2022. And that's absolutely unacceptable," said Mark Toney, Executive Director for TURN, or the Utility Reform Network. "We have these rate increases stacked on top of each other, and that's what makes it outrageous."
PG&E said the price hikes reflect consolidated rate changes approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC.
"The increased costs are driven by a few factors, including recent California drought conditions which reduced lower-cost hydroelecric generation and by higher natural gas and wholesale electric energy prices seen in 2021 and forecasted to continue into 2022."Pacific Gas & Electric
But people are expressing their irritation with the rate hikes all over social media.
"I'm not in favor of raising rates. Between gas costs and now PG&E, it's really not a good situation. You know, it’s too expensive, more expensive for everything," said Bill Napper of Salinas.
"PG&E passes through the cost of energy purchases directly to our customers and does not mark-up that cost. What we pay for our customers’ energy supply, both natural gas and electricity, we pass through directly to our customers," PG&E said in a statement to KION.
"It is true that the price of gas went up, it spiked during the winter. It's called a price spike because it comes back down. If you look at the spring and summer, the demand drops way down for natural gas. So what the PUC should have done was to defer the increase because of this previous increase and say, 'You know what, we're going to wait for the summer and even it out, and maybe we don't need an increase at all because it'll come back down.' Or maybe it's a very small increase instead of jacking up the price when people can least afford it in the middle of a pandemic," said Toney.
TURN is pushing the CPUC to cap these rate increases.
"This 20% is just the tip of the iceberg. It does not count PG&E asking for a 30% rate increase for 2023. It doesn't count the $5.5 billion dollars they've already spent on wildfire mitigation and haven't gotten the PUC to approve yet. It also doesn't account for the $10.5 billion dollars for under-grounding 3,600 miles of wires," said Toney.
The Mercury News reports monthly bills could jump by $30 a month to burry those powerlines.
PG&E does have tips on how you can help lower your utility bills.
CPUC is also holding public forums this month to receive public feedback on PG&E's rate increase for 2023. You can find more information here.
KION reached out to CPUC on why they approved this latest rate increase. They said they had no one available to talk.