PG&E is a major electricity provider for residents of California – and it’s clear, that it is not beloved by the people of the state. It’s not the only major provider. It services Northern California, but there also is Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. All of these companies will be dealing with the details of a new state law that was passed last year. The three companies have filed a joint proposal with the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to outline how the proposed rate changes would work for consumers.
Right now, residents pay for electricity based on how much power they use. The new payment plan for customers will have them dealing with a 4-tier billing system, which will, believe it or not, consider not only the cost of energy usage, but also the income level of the resident!
PG&E is a company residents do business with monthly – business that involves sending the company checks to pay bills that continue to increase. That increase often involves the residents using more electricity and gas, but sometimes it also involves an increase in what the company charges for that energy. Residents have no control over that.
I’ve lived in California for years, and I don’t think I’ve ever received a bill from PG&E that was lower because rates were lowered. That’s something that just isn’t done! But now, this new billing scheme for Californians really takes the cake!
The new billing procedure for customers will have the company charging not only for the energy used but basing it on the income of the customer. In other words, if you are more wealthy, you will pay more!
I’ve never heard of such a situation – but then this is California, and the state decides what it can do with us and our resources!
It all stems from a state law that sets up a new payment plan that would add a fixed monthly charge based on the income levels of the individual customers.
The companies are proposing a 33% reduction in electricity rates. Supposedly, PGE says, the effect of that could be to help reduce monthly bills for low-income customers – but they also admit other customers could find their bills higher.
If a household earns less than $28,000 annually, there would be an additional fixed monthly charge of $15.
Those with incomes from $28,000 to $69,000 annually, would pay an additional $30 monthly.
Those with incomes from $69,000 to $180,000 would pay $51 more monthly.
Those above $180,000, would pay $92 additional monthly.
Keep in mind this is in addition to the monthly cost of the electricity used.
PGE admits that regular electricity rates would continue to fluctuate with market changes. In addition, people with solar, would find their rates increasing, based on usage.
As for how to determine family income, PG&E said, in a mailed brochure, that it recommends “a qualified independent state agency or third party be responsible for verifying customers’ total household income.”
There are no details on who, when, and how that would occur.
There’s nothing like knowing that your utility company will have access to your personal annual income figures. From what I have been able to determine, people will have no control over that.
According to the latest Bureau of Labor statistics figures, PG&E utility costs have gone up twice as fast as the average San Francisco Bay Area inflation rate – more than 13.6% higher – despite the fact that overall consumer prices there rose just 5.3%.
State residents are expected to feel what is described as a “brutal financial squeeze” as a result of the state pushing to be a “green energy” state. The goal is to reduce natural gas use and increase electricity usage – along with these new fees, of course.
Not only do residents face changes such as these, there is also the push to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles and switch to electric vehicles. This applies not only to passenger cars but also to buses and trucks of all sizes.
The PUC says it will be crafting a final rate and billing structure for the three companies – and that it will make a final decision by July 2024.
I can hardly wait.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal
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Haven’t they heard of Proposition 218? Get ready for a lawsuit.