PG&E is under pressure to prevent increasingly destructive wildfires in San Francisco and has come up with a plan to do it amid bankruptcy: collect another $2 billion from customers in the next three years.
In December, the utility put in a request to boost revenues by $1 billion in 2020, $454 million in 2021, and another $486 million in 2022. That’s expected to boost a typical bill by about $10 a month across its more than 16 million customers.
The $2 billion would go toward its wildfire safety program, liability insurance, and gas and electric operations. But PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January, estimating that it’s on the hook for about $50 billion in liabilities stemming from wildfires and has $71 billion in assets. That was before Cal Fire officially declared in May that a PG&E power line sparked the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 19,000 structures.
Even with goodwill that may come for not being declared the cause of several wildfires, customers would have something to say before being served higher electricity bills — or at least, the activists who protested several California Public Utility Commission meetings will. Those customers will soon get a chance to tell state regulators in a series of public forums announced on Tuesday.
San Francisco will be the CPUC’s first stop on July 9 at 505 Van Ness Ave, starting at 1 p.m. It will also be streamed live and folks can listen in at 1-877-937-0544 with the passcode 7031793.
PG&E customers in the Bay Area can also head to the Elihu M. Harris State Office Building in Oakland on July 24, San Jose’s Alfred E. Alquist State Office Building on July 25, and Santa Rosa City Hall on July 31. Each session starts at 1 p.m. and again at 6 p.m.
The CPUC will also hold the forums in Stockton, Chico, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, and Fresno. Written comments can be submitted to CPUC Public Advisor at the San Francisco office or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If San Francisco continues down the path of buying PG&E’s equipment in the city to operate its own utility, customers here could be spared from the rate increase. But it’s far from a done deal and there are just seven months until 2020, when the higher bills start rolling in.