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Friday, April 26, 2024
After Wildfire Lawsuits, Soaring PG&E power rates approach Hawaii
By Selected News Articles @ 3:43 PM :: 1467 Views :: Energy, Cost of Living

Soaring PG&E power rates in 2024 approach Hawaii

from NBC Bay Area, April 26, 2024 (excerpts)

…After January’s rate hike, PG&E customers began paying on average 39.6 cents per kilowatt hour. The PG&E rate was 21 cents per kilowatt hour back in 2019, according to tracking data.

With the hefty increase so far this year, PG&E’s rates are now approaching those of Hawaii, a state with the unfortunate distinction of having the most expensive power in the nation.

(Don't worry.  Hawaii will find a way to stay #1.)

Hawaii has long paid the highest of any state for power – in part because as an island, oil must be shipped in from as far as Libya and Argentina. The cost to generate power accounts for about half the average 41 cents per kilowatt hour price Hawaiian customers pay, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“Hawaii has been held out as the entity with the highest rates in the United States,” said Mike Campbell, who tracks rates for the consumer watchdog arm of the California Public Utilities Commission. He says over the last five years, PG&E’s rates have nearly doubled in California.

After January’s rate hike, PG&E customers began paying on average 39.6 cents per kilowatt hour. The PG&E rate was 21 cents per kilowatt hour back in 2019, according to tracking data.

(IQ Test: Can you guess what’s going to happen as a result of Lahaina?)

An average customer uses 500 kilowatt hours per month. One kilowatt hour is how much energy it takes to power 10 100-watt bulbs for an hour. With the rate increase this year, customers who paid $100 for power back in 2019 now pay nearly $200 for the same power.

“Bills have been going up at a pace far beyond inflation,” Campbell says. “And we're at a place now where PG&E rates are, unfortunately, approaching the levels they have in Hawaii.”…

(Idea: Reduce Costs by Charging More)

State regulators have proposed one way to make bills more affordable. It involves imposing an income-based monthly fee to account for fixed costs, while trimming rates per kilowatt hour as much as five cents. But not everyone is on board with the fixed fee approach.

“We're in a race for the highest rates in the nation, and that is an ignominious prize to win,” said Loretta Lynch, a former president of the CPUC. She says many customers don’t use enough power – even with the five-cent discount – to make up for the proposed standard $24 monthly fee….

As for rates, PG&E says while they will go up about $50 a month this year, it expects some relief in 2025 and 2026. The rate hikes set for this year will help pay to bury more than 1,200 miles of power lines and make other wildfire related and system repair investments, according to the energy company. The relief it expects starting next year will be through cost-cutting efficiencies it’s put in place while cutting wildfire risk by 94 percent, it says….

read … About Hawaii’s Future

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