Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) said today that with the start of the new year, residential customers will see a significant decline in natural gas rates, and a modest increase in electric rates to cover the utility's costs of maintaining and modernizing its system and of meeting a state mandate to buy more renewable energy.
PG&E's average rates for residential gas customers will dip in January almost six percent compared to January 2012, thanks in part to lower wholesale costs for gas. However, customers should expect an increase in gas rates of about two percent as early as February, reflecting spending approved this month by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for PG&E's Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan. This plan, one of the most aggressive and comprehensive gas pipeline modernization programs in the United States, will help PG&E achieve its goal of operating the safest and most reliable natural gas system in the country.
Average residential electric rates will increase about 2.6 percent system-wide compared to last January, close to the rate of inflation in Northern California. The increase is driven primarily by higher costs for acquiring clean, renewable energy to meet state mandates, and by spending previously approved by the CPUC for operating, maintaining and upgrading PG&E's electric generation and distribution systems. Thanks to such upgrades, electric customers recently experienced the lowest rate of outages in the utility's history.
Customers will likely face another electric rate increase this May of about two percent to pay for additional electric transmission infrastructure to modernize California's power grid and deliver more renewable energy to customers.
"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 improving our safety and reliability," said Tom Bottorff, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs 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 gas and electric operations. Although electric and gas rates fluctuate from year to year, our average customer bills remain well below the national average."
Bottorff added, "We try to empower all of our customers with tools to help them better understand and manage their energy needs so they can control their bills and make the best use of our services."
SmartMeter-enabled online tools like MyEnergy, money-saving programs like Winter Gas Savings, rebates for energy-efficient appliances and home retrofits, and bill payment options make it easier than ever for customers the get more value for their money.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.