PG&E customers will start the New Year with an increase in their electricity bills.

Regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this month approved the hikes, which go into effect Friday. The increases will vary in size depending on which rate category a customer is in, but a household that had a $164.15 monthly electric bill can now expect to pay $172.29.

PG&E spokesman Matt Nauman said most customers' electricity bills will increase by about 3 percent.

PG&E uses an electrical rate plan with five levels, or tiers, of billing. Tier 1, or "baseline" customers, use a minimum level of electricity when judged by regional and seasonal averages. Customers are then charged an increasingly higher rate as their electricity use rises above baseline level. The more electricity you use, the higher the rate you pay.

Starting Jan. 1st, consumers in Tier 1 will see their hourly rate go from 11.5 cents a kilowatt hour to 11.9 cents. In Tier 5, it jumps from 44.3 cents a kilowatt hour to 47.4 cents a kilowatt hour.

PG&E provides natural gas and electric service to about 15 million customers from Eureka to Bakersfield. For years, the rates in Tiers 1 and 2 were frozen, which mean that customers in the upper tiers bore the brunt of subsequent rate hikes. This fall, the Legislature passed a law allowing utilities to raise their rates for all customers.

The changes that take effect Jan. 1 do not affect low-income customers enrolled in the California Alternate Rates for Energy program, or CARE.

Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706.



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