PG&E profits soar after rate hikes

PG&E reports it made a $2.24 billion dollar profit last year — a 24% increase from the year before.

In a call with investors, PG&E credits last year's rate increases with boosting its bottom line and said it expects to remain profitable through 2028.

"Shareholders are pocketing money based on record rate increases," said Mark Toney, executive director of the non-profit TURN, the Utility Reform Network.

Toney said PG&E is planning to ask state regulators to approve more rate hikes in the future.

"PG&E has currently sitting on the desk of the California Public Utilities Commission, no less than 12 separate proposals for increases – twelve," he said.


PG&E asks for another rate hike due to climate change

Climate change has aggravated inflation, but nowhere more than with Pacific Gas & Electric, the first major utility to deal with far more effects of extreme weather related to fire and floods.

PG&E said it needs that money to bury more than 1,200 miles of power lines underground for wildfire prevention. Its vast network stretches from Eureka in Northern California south to Bakersfield. 

By law, they're allowed to make a profit on those safety improvements:

"They're asking us to pay them to bury lines: Dear rate-payers, you're paying for those lines to be buried, and you're paying a profit of 10% every time they stick a shovel in the ground," said Ken Cook, with the non-profit Environmental Working Group.

Rate-payers like Rochard Holton of Pittsburg, agreed that arrangement seemed unfair.

"Your [PG&E’s] incompetence is causing me to pay more money? I don't see the math in that. I don't think it's fair at all we're shouldering it," he said.

Carmen Goodin of Walnut Creek said her family’s energy costs are becoming unsustainable.

"$555 for one month for a family of three," she said. "We have to keep the heat on, it's cold, but we're really struggling to pay such a high bill. It's never been this high. It's a burden on middle class families."

The California Public Utilities Commission, the state agency in charge of regulating PG&E will vote at its next meeting March 7, whether to allow the company to add an additional $4 - 6 dollar charge to their customers' monthly bills.

PG&E said that extra fee is to pay for some of the safety upgrades it made in 2022.

"I do think that if enough people call in to their state representatives, the governor's office, and the CPUC they will feel the pressure," said Toney. "This is the time to increase the pressure, especially now that everyone knows PG&E is turning record profits."

All six commissioners on the CPUC were appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. To contact the governor’s office, click here.

How to attend, watch and comment at the CPUC meeting

Where: CPUC Auditorium, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102

When: March 7

Watch remotely via this link.

Phone line to participate in public comment:

  • English Phone: 1-800-857-1917, passcode: 9899501#
  • Spanish Phone: 1-800-857-1917, passcode: 3799627#