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Statement of AARP California State Director Nancy McPherson on CPUC Decision to Raise Energy Rates of PG&E Customers

Posted on 11/16/23

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 16, 2023
Contact: Mark Beach (916) 952-8569; mbeach@aarp.org

AARP is pleased that today's order by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted our recommendation for a more measured and cost-effective meter replacement and plastic pipe natural gas replacement plan, both of which will save PG&E customers millions of dollars. We thank the Commission for significantly reducing the amount of the four-year rate increase that PG&E originally requested.

Unfortunately, the CPUC gave PG&E approval to raise electricity and gas rates on its 16 million Northern California customers.

In 2022, PG&E asked for an outrageous 26 percent rate increase over four years. This increase was in addition to other rate increases that, since 2019, totaled 38 percent. PG&E claims this new increase will strengthen its infrastructure thus reducing wildfires caused by its equipment. However, they have made this claim numerous times in recent years but failed to demonstrate that this expensive option actually improved safety.

AARP asked our members who are PG&E customers to raise their voices – and more than 30,000 of them immediately responded by signing petitions telling the CPUC to PUT CUSTOMERS FIRST when deciding on PG&E’s proposed rate increases.

Through the work of AARP and our partners, it appears that, in today’s decision, PG&E’s original 26 percent request has been significantly reduced. While we applaud President Reynolds and the commissioners for listening to consumer voices, we are still deeply concerned with the negative impact that these rate increases will have on the health and financial well-being of millions of Californians.

We are especially troubled that the exact impact to residential customers is still unknown at this time, largely due to last-minute technical revisions to the decision proposals. We urge the CPUC to immediately release a more consumer-friendly, accurate statement of what these increases will mean to ratepayer bills.

By 2030, one in four Californians will be over the age of 60. That means more Californians will be on fixed and limited incomes, than ever before – incomes that cannot withstand these ridiculously high-rate increases. No one should be in the middle of a heat wave worrying about paying for their air conditioning bill or a vital prescription; and no one should be in the middle of winter fearing that their skyrocketing gas bills will prevent them from putting food on the table.

Given PG&E’s abysmal record on safety, it is essential that the CPUC holds PG&E accountable for spending all customer funds in a manner that achieves the utility company’s stated aim of improving public safety. We were heartened to hear the CPUC also acknowledge PG&E’s poor track record of accountability.

We urge the CPUC, utility companies, and lawmakers to envision a future where skyrocketing rate increases stop harming Californians whose lives depend on safe, affordable energy. AARP will continue to be vigilant in holding PG&E and other private utilities accountable.

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This story is provided by AARP California. Visit the AARP California page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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