California Girds for Higher Power Prices From PG&E After Fires

Already paying some of the highest electricity prices in the country, customers of California’s largest utility, PG&E Corp. could soon face large rate increases due to the state’s catastrophic wildfires.

PG&E asked state regulators on Thursday to approve a plan to sharply increase revenues it seeks from customers over a three-year period, with a hike of 12%, or more than $1 billion, in 2020, growing to 24% by 2022. The company is currently authorized to seek $8.5 billion next year.

. . . PG&E customers already pay power prices almost twice the national average. Of the 10 largest investor-owned utilities, PG&E has the second-highest rates, averaging 20.06 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

. . . PG&E’s system-average cost of electricity service rose more than 4% a year from 2013 to 2017, far faster than inflation, as the utility passed on the cost of California’s ambitious renewable-energy expansion and other expenses to customers.

The utility’s customers are already having difficulty paying their bills. PG&E electricity-service disconnections for nonpayment jumped 32% from 2013 to 2017, according to the commission.

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