Typical residential customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will see a forecast increase of about 2.8 percent, or $3.38, in their combined natural gas and electric bills due to rate changes on January 1 to pay for higher wholesale energy purchase costs as well as work to maintain and modernize the utility's infrastructure to meet higher levels of safety and reliability.
Average residential electric rates will increase about 0.6 percent system-wide compared to current rates. Based on average monthly usage, the bill for a typical residential customer will increase by just $0.23. The increase is largely caused by higher forecast costs for buying electricity, including renewable energy to meet state mandates. PG&E expects to bring online about 1,200 megawatts (MW) of new capacity from independent renewable-energy projects in 2014, an increase exceeded only by the addition of nearly 1,400 MW in 2013. Such purchases, along with PG&E's extensive use of clean hydro and nuclear power, help make PG&E one of the cleanest electric utilities in the country.
PG&E's average rates for residential gas customers will increase 7.3 percent in January over current rates, including annual forecast gas commodity prices. Under normal weather conditions, a typical residential customer bill based on average usage would increase by $3.15. More than half the increase is caused by a sharp jump in forecast market prices for gas, which PG&E passes along to customers without making a profit on sales. Smaller factors include the rising cost of maintaining and upgrading the utility's gas infrastructure, including pipelines and storage facilities, and the cost of mandated social programs, such as energy efficiency and discounts for low-income customers.
"For us at PG&E, keeping rates affordable is a priority along with ensuring safety and maintaining reliable service," said Tom Bottorff, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at PG&E. "Fortunately, our rates have stayed in line with inflation over the years and our average customer bills remain well below the national average. We also 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 rebates for energy-efficient appliances and home retrofits, and options for rate plans and bill payment 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 (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California.