Wednesday, December 2, San Francisco–TURN executive director Mark Toney will demand that the California Public Utilities Commission freeze rates for PG&E and other utilities at the CPUC’s December 3rd at 10 am. PG&E is proposing immediate rate hikes that could cost customers on average about $150 per year, and will surely not be the only increases the company will demand for 2021. Toney said drastic bill increases during COVID and the ongoing recession could push many families in California to the brink.
“Even before the Covid-19 crisis,” said Toney, “PG&E’s customers were facing an affordability crisis. In the midst of this pandemic and the staggering job and business losses that come along with it, the last thing most PG&E customers can bear is higher bills. This will further stretch household budgets and increase the amount vulnerable customers owe at the end of the existing shutoff moratorium. In the middle of winter. Instead of freezing customers out, the CPUC should freeze rates.”
PG&E made the demand through Advice Letter 6004-E, which doesn’t require a public vote, but TURN is calling on the Commission to place the item on its public agenda and vote with- or against- the public in public.
Toney noted that the Commission has previously taken extraordinary action to protect PG&E itself from “the unique and unprecedented circumstances” it faced due to bankruptcy and COVID’s impact on the stock market. He said the Commission should do no less for customers almost a year into a pandemic during which power has become an increasingly vital service. During the Commission’s recent briefing on COVID it was reported that utilities are seeing a 15% increase in residential customer usage while at the same time customers are shouldering larger arrears for longer amounts of time.
“These rate hikes will be devastating to many consumers. They certainly shouldn’t be approved behind closed doors. We’re asking the Commission to stand up for customers in the sunshine, and vote publicly to say no and freeze rates during its December 17 meeting.”