Californians Speechless Over New Rate Hike

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( – Many residents in California were taken aback by the sharp increase in their recent electric and gas bills, following a rate hike by a leading utility provider that affected millions of customers.

Dorothy Lovell, a 90-year-old from Santa Rosa, expressed her dismay to The San Francisco Chronicle, stating, “It’s almost like you’re getting punished,” after her utility bill soared to $696.64 in January. Similarly, Rebecca Gallegos, a longtime San Franciscan, was shocked by a $162 increase in her bill from the previous month, saying, “I really was not prepared. I’m blown away.”

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) had previously announced in November that customers should anticipate an average monthly increase of about $35 in their utility bills in 2024, following the California Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the new rates, which translates to an additional annual cost of over $400.

The utility company stated that the rate increase would fund improvements to enhance the safety of power lines and gas pipelines, especially after several severe wildfires, as reported by the Chronicle.

Moreover, PG&E’s customers might face even higher bills this year as the utility commission deliberates on further proposals from PG&E to recoup expenses from the previous year’s storms. If approved, this could mean an additional monthly increase of $14-15 for customers.

PG&E spokesperson Lynsey Paulo mentioned that the company is assisting customers struggling with their utility bills. Paulo highlighted programs like the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH), which offers up to $1,000 off bills for qualifying customers, along with other resources available on their website to help reduce costs.

PG&E also informed Fox News Digital about additional programs aimed at reducing costs for customers, including a debt forgiveness plan for those who faced pandemic-related financial hardships.

The company emphasized its commitment to safe operations, cost reduction, and support for customers through energy-saving tips, financial assistance programs for eligible customers, and an expanded bill support program.

Furthermore, PG&E, along with two other major utility companies in California, might soon have their rates determined based on “equity” following the passage of Assembly Bill 205 last year. This legislation permits the California Public Utilities Commission to set fixed rates based on customer income, potentially saving low-income customers around $300 annually, while households with incomes over $180,000 could see an average annual increase of $500 in their electricity bills.

The commission has until July 1, 2024, to approve these suggested changes, which would not immediately impact customers’ bills. In response to the bill’s passage, some Democrats who initially supported the legislation have proposed new legislation to repeal the controversial measure.

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