PG&E, even before it seeks potential rate hikes linked to wildfire liabilities and lawsuits, on Thursday asked state regulators for large increases in monthly electricity and gas bills, according to new official filings by the embattled utility behemoth.
Customers who receive both gas and electricity services from PG&E can expect to pay $12.55 more a month in their power bills if the state Public Utilities Commission approves two sets of proposed increases, according to estimates provided Thursday by PG&E. The current average monthly bill for residential gas and electricity customers is $165.94 a month.
"This is alarming," said Mark Toney, executive director with The Utility Reform Network, a consumer group. "PG&E is asking for a bailout."
The proposed increases arrived through two separate rate requests to the PUC. One is PG&E's general rate case, which occurs every three years, and the other is through a proceeding that's specific to costs linked to the shutdown of the aging Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant perched on a scenic coastal stretch of San Luis Obispo County.
San Francisco-based PG&E listed an array of reasons, some of them related to enhanced electrical system safety, for the increases proposed in the general rate case.
"The utility proposes to invest a total of approximately $5 billion, including approximately $3 billion for capital expenditures, between 2018 and 2022 on community wildfire safety program measures," PG&E stated in the regulatory filing. "Through this program, the utility proposes to bolster wildfire prevention, risk monitoring, and emergency response efforts, add new and enhanced safety measures, increase vegetation management, and harden its electric system to help further reduce wildfire risks."