PG&E customers face higher monthly bills linked to a gas transmission and storage case approved by state regulators, according to the company and an official regulatory filing.
The prospect of higher bills for natural gas faces PG&E ratepayers at the same time that they must also ponder the possibility of rising costs to help the company extricate itself from wildfire liabilities and other debts in connection with its $51.69 billion bankruptcy case.
The monthly bill for a typical residential customer will increase by roughly $1.73, effective Oct. 1, according to PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty. That hypothetical bill increase is based on average usage of 32 therms a month.
“PG&E’s 2019 gas transmission and storage rate request focuses on how PG&E will continue to increase safety through targeted investments that strengthen and modernize our gas transmission pipelines and storage facilities,” PG&E said in comments emailed to this news organization.
At present, PG&E combined monthly bills for the average residential customer are $167.72. Bills for the typical customer total $112.81 a month for electricity and $54.91 for gas.
That means the average gas bill would reach a new total of $56.64 a month, or a 3.2 percent increase from the current levels.
The total average residential bill, a combination of gas and electricity charges, would reach $169.45, or a 1 percent increase from current levels. This proceeding before the PUC didn’t involve electric bills.
The rising gas bills would result from a recent decision by the state Public Utilities Commission in a gas transmission and storage case initiated by PG&E., according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that PG&E filed on Tuesday.
The PUC approved an increase of 2.4 percent, effective during 2019, compared to 2018, in the revenue requirement for PG&E related to gas transmission and storage facilities. The commission also authorized a further increase in 2020 of 7.5 percent compared with 2019.
By 2022, revenue requirements for PG&E related to gas transmission and storage are expected to reach $1.58 billion, which would be 21.4 percent above the revenue requirement of $1.3 billion that was established for 2018, the SEC filing showed.
San Francisco-based PG&E is already a convicted felon for crimes it committed before and after a fatal explosion in 2010 that killed eight and destroyed a San Bruno neighborhood.
Since then, PG&E’s gas system has come under intense scrutiny. Federal investigators determined in 2011 that the San Bruno explosion was caused by a lethal mixture of PG&E’s flawed record-keeping, shoddy maintenance, and the PUC’s inept supervision of the disgraced utility.
Since that fatal explosion in San Bruno, PG&E’s woes have steadily mounted, primarily due to the company’s role in causing a string of lethal wildfires in Northern California in recent years.
The utility’s equipment has been linked to a fatal blaze in Amador County and Calaveras County in 2015 that’s known as the Butte Fire, a series of deadly wildfires that roared through the North Bay Wine Country and nearby regions in 2017, and a fatal inferno known as the Camp Fire that scorched parts of Butte County and essentially destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018.
The increase in monthly bills will fund upgrades and safety measures on 6,600 miles of gas transmission pipelines in the PG&E system.
“The plan includes investing in the best gas safety technology, such as advanced robotics to find and fix flaws, and improving emergency response during natural disasters like earthquakes and wildfires,” PG&E said in the emailed comments.
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