PG&E Rates Hearings should not fall on Deaf Ears (CPUC)

PG&E is touting its audacity by proposing to raise rates of electricity and gas, in addition to wildfire bailout fees that threaten ratepayers with higher utility bills. 

This rate hike could be as much as $20 more per month for residential customers, and the East Bay community came out to say, “No!” The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) began holding public hearings in different cities, which originally began on July 9 in San Francisco, where the new CEO William D. Johnson spoke on behalf of the negligent company. 

The CPUC held two rate increase hearings in Downtown Oakland on July 24; one in the afternoon and another after traditional work hours.  About 30 speakers spoke at each hearing and many more sat in the audience to watch the process. The speakers represented various types of members of the community from disability advocates, church leaders, environmental, health and clean energy advocates.  The testimony ranged from hardships of currently having inflated PG&E bills and the shut offs that happen when one cannot pay. 

The disability advocates addressed the need to power electric wheelchairs and breathing machines; they cannot afford higher rates while on a fixed income nor electricity shut offs because their life depends on these machines and noted that we should not have to pay for PG&E’s past mistakes. 

One person held a CPAP mask and asked everyone in the room to raise their hand if they also wear a breathing mask or any other similar type of device.  Many hands were raised, demonstrating how critical energy affordability really is.   

Shreya Shankar of West Oakland highlighted to the CPUC, the need to divest from a centralized investor owned energy model and invest into community controlled clean energy, noting that PG&E in 2012 took $100 million designated for pipeline safety and used it for bonuses.  She also added that here in the Bay Area, housing prices are astronomical. 

The testimony will be passed on to sn administrative law judge who will then come up with a rate proposal to the CPUC sometime in the first quarter of 2020. “The time of extractive greed is over… just say no to PG&E rate hike,” said Pastor BK Woodson from Faith in Action East Bay.