PG&E profits soar, but so do customer bills

Hold on to your electric blanket but unplug it! PG&E just announced its January to March quarterly profits which caused its stock to fatten but your wallet to lose weight. It’s a massive increase over the same period last year.

In the wake of two large rate increases on natural gas and electricity, imposed during the first quarter, PG&E's January through March profits sharply increased to $475 million, almost quadruple its profits for the same quarter a year ago. 

"Wall Street is popping champagne corks," said consumer advocated Mark Toney of TURN, The Utility Reform Network. PG&E’s shares jumped about 3.5% on Thursday alone thanks to the report on profits. "Profits being on the back of record price increases," said Toney.  

"We can make our system safe with the right investments and keep customers' bills affordable," said PG&E CEO Patti Poppe today to investors.

On top of the 14% rate increase already imposed this year, another fee hike will be considered in April. More major increases are in the works for 2023 into 2026 "Forty dollars a month increase for 2023 and by 2020 that will have grown to nearly fifty dollars a month of increase," said Toney.

The PG&E CEO, on the investors' conference call said, "On wildfire, we're confident that we have the right tools in place to mitigate this risk." 

That did not impress the consumer advocate. "PG&E is not doing the job they're supposed to do to keep us safe. Thousands of wildfire victims who lost everything in 2017 and 2018 are homeless and haven't gotten paid," said Toney.

Poppe said things are getting better. "I learned long ago that the customer experience can be improved while we are reducing the cost to deliver," said Poppe. 

Consumer advocate Toney says Poppe, who's gotten accolades for plain speaking and making major changes in PG&E's culture and safety, is paid so well that she simply cannot relate to ratepayers. 

"Over $50 million, the highest of any utility CEO in the United States," said Toney who also said that customers should raise hell with state legislators, the Governor and the CPUC to cap these rates.