Rate hikes on tap for Bay Area PG&E customers

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- For the second time in as many months, PG&E customers will see their electric bills rise.

The company has implemented a 2.1 percent rate hike, which will be reflected in the March bills. The increase is in addition to a 21 percent hike in residential rates from December 2015 through December 2016.

PG&E officials say residential rates were increased to fund safety and reliability infrastructure projects.

"The reason that we had the initial rate increases last year, were for safety but the primary increase was for gas safety," said company spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian. "This 2.1 percent is primarily for electric transmission."

In addition to the rate increase, the bills of many customers will look a little different as the utility company is modifying its electric rate structure, dropping them from three tiers to two.

Also, customers who use more than four times the baseline amount of electricity will be hit with a high energy surcharge.

The utility says customers can monitor their bills without facing a high consumption surcharge by signing up on the company's website for alerts.

"If you see a spike you can track that and see what caused that spike," Sarkissian said. "We also have tools available that will give you an alert if you're going above a certain threshold."

PG&E spokeswoman says the high usage surcharge and tiered structure are not unique to PG&E because it mirrors changes taking place statewide.

Also, there are additional rate changes planned for this year but utility officials won't say when they are expected to be implemented.

The California Public Utilities Commission signed off previously on the rate hikes.

By KTVU reporter Paul Chambers.