PG&E is asking state regulators to allow major gas and electricity rate increases in coming years -- in large part, the company says, to help pay for a wildfire prevention program including new poles, covered power lines, weather stations and cameras.
If the California Public Utilities Commission approves the proposal, the average residential customer would see a monthly increase of 6.4 percent, or $10.57, starting in 2020.
The increase would amount to $1.06 billion more than what the commission approved the utility to collect in 2019. In the filing, PG&E says that additional funding be spent in three areas:
- $579 million would go toward the company's wildfire safety program.
- $273 million would go toward increases in liability insurance.
- $204 million for gas and electric operations.
The utility's request, filed Thursday, was part of a routine process where the commission decides how much utilities can ask from ratepayers over a three-year period. This current request is for electric and gas rates covering 2020 to 2022. PG&E is proposing to invest a total of about $5 billion on wildfire safety measures over the next four years, according to the filing.
None of the new revenue would go toward legal claims from the deadly fires of 2018 or 2017, PG&E said. In the filing, the company says it had planned on asking for money for the safety improvements months before the deadly Camp Fire burned through Butte County, killing 86 people.
Cal Fire investigators have found that PG&E equipment sparked at least 16 of the fires during last year's deadly fire siege. They referred 11 of those cases to local authorities to prosecute. Authorities are still investigating the causes of the Camp Fire and Tubbs Fire, which killed 22 people in Sonoma County last year.