PG&E bills going up as energy inflation hits hard

If energy "sticker shock" wasn't already obviously painful at the pump or on utility bills, inflation is again going after more of your money for natural gas and electric, even beyond the utility's ability to combat it.

Natural gas is a fundamental home heating source and a major power plant fuel for PG&E to make electricity itself and what it imports from other electricity suppliers. Nationally, demand for gas has caused prices to spike some 90% causing electricity prices to rise as well. So, with state approval, PG&E is passing these added costs onto electric bills.

"So whether its natural gas or electricity, those costs are passed straight through to our customers with no mark up," said PG&E Communications Director Lynsey Paulo.

The gas PG&E stores for customers out in the Delta's McDonald Island has prevented price hikes from being even higher. But it still hurts.

"So, when you add it to the increases in January, PG&E customers are seeing a 20% increase in 2022," said Mark Toney, Executive Director of TURN, The Utility Reform Network, a now half century old, utility consumer advocacy group.

Toney says PG&E is ignoring the fact that gas prices fall the spring and should be average to soften the blow. But, it's more than gas.

"Electric rates have already skyrocketed this year, especially for PG&E, we're talking about a 20% increase but, that's just the tip of the iceberg," said Toney.

Toney says the iceberg adds billions more if the CPUC approves.

"The $5.5 billion has already spent on wildfire safety and wants to collect from ratepayers. It does not include the billions of dollars for underground wires that PG&E wants to do," said Toney.

All of this, says Toney, plus another 30% increase PG&E wants in 2023; all adds up to $70 a month.

"That's what they're asking for. That's what's on the table right now," said Toney.

But, especially on general rates, PG&E rarely gets everything is asks for.

"It will be an open and transparent process. We encourage our customers and other to participate and comment on that process," said Paulo.

Paulo adds that PG&E has a number of energy saving tips as well as numerous programs to assist customers who are not able to pay their bills.