PG&E is asking state regulators to approve a rate increase for the 16 million people it serves, in part to pay for system improvements that would reduce fire hazards.
The company recently submitted its 2020 General Rate Case (GRC) to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
If the CPUC approves the proposed increases, the average monthly bill for a typical residential electric and gas customer would increase by $10.57 a month, or 6.4 percent, in 2020. This includes $8.73 for electric and $1.84 for gas service, according to a PG&E spokesman.
“PG&E recognizes that any increase to a customer’s energy bill has a significant impact, and we are committed to keeping customer costs as low as possible, while ensuring we are meeting our responsibilities to safely serve our customers,” said Steve Malnight, PG&E Senior Vice President of Energy Supply and Policy.
More than half of PG&E’s proposed rate increase would be directly related to wildfire prevention, risk reduction, and additional safety enhancements.
The application proposes measures in addition to those implemented after 2017 and 2018 wildfires to help further reduce wildfire threats. Proposed measures include risk monitoring and emergency response; adding new safety measures; increasing vegetation management; and hardening PG&E’s electric system to help further reduce wildfire risk.
Components of the company’s plan include:
- Installing stronger and more resilient poles and covered power lines across 2,000 miles of high fire-risk areas;
- Increasing work to keep power lines clear of branches from trees with the potential to grow or fall into overhead power lines;
- Implementing SmartMeter technology to more quickly identify and respond to fallen power lines;
- Adding 1,300 new weather stations in high fire-risk areas by 2022 to enhance weather forecasting and modeling; and
- Installing nearly 600 new high-definition cameras in high fire-threat areas, increasing coverage across these areas to more than 90 percent.