Utility Holds Costs Under Rate of Inflation
Submitted to the WPR
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) said today that with the start of the new year, residential customers will see flat to moderate increases in gas and electric rates, which cover the utility’s costs of buying energy, investing in new plants and equipment, and paying for state mandates such as special programs to help income-qualified customers.
PG&E’s average rates for residential gas customers will dip 0.3 percent compared to January 2011 and increase 1.8 percent over December 2011. Average residential electric rates will increase 2.9 percent over January 1, 2011, or 2.4 percent over December 2011 (see table below for average estimated bill impacts).
“We know our customers care more than ever about their energy bills during these difficult economic times, so we continue to focus on keeping rate increases as modest as possible while raising enough revenue to continue to provide safe and reliable service,” said Tom Bottorff, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Relations for PG&E. “These revenues help us serve customers by reducing the frequency of electrical outages, improving the responsiveness of our call centers, providing more convenient services and, above all, continuing to upgrade the safety of our system.”
The rate increases are lower than the trend for all U.S. consumer prices, which increased 3.4 percent over the most recently measured 12-month period (November 2010 to November 2011), according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Although electric and gas rates fluctuate from year to year, we have managed to keep them below the rate of inflation over the past five years,” Bottorff added.
The January electric rate change will provide increased revenues to repair and replace aging infrastructure and invest in clean energy supplies, among other needs. Electric and gas rates have not been affected by PG&E’s costs stemming from the San Bruno tragedy, which have been borne by the utility’s shareholders. ■