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PG&E May Multiply Rates 5x

It’s been a rough year for Pacific Gas & Electric. Within the last few months, they’ve been found liable for the start and subsequent damages of the Camp Fire to the tune of ~$8 billion, dramatically restructured their corporate hierarchy and plan to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy soon. On top of that, a San Francisco District Court has ordered the company to inspect its grid and clear trees that could potentially pose a risk to it. Falling trees are believed to have been the primary cause of last year’s Camp Fire.

“The company told the U.S. District Court in San Francisco that the judge’s so-called vegetation management plan would force it to dramatically increase the rates it charges customers to employ more than 650,000 full-time workers.

‘PG&E would inevitably need to turn to California ratepayers for funding, resulting in a substantial increase — an estimated one-year increase of more than five times current rates in typical utility bills,’ it said in the filing.”

PG&E may face up to $30 billion in damages for wildfires caused in 2017, and their infrastructure has been identified as the main cause. Some critics decry filing chapter 11 as a way to diffuse responsibility and avoid paying the high costs of liability. 

“Investigators have already determined PG&E’s equipment was liable in at least 17 major wildfires in 2017. State investigators are still working to determine if the company’s equipment was partly responsible for November’s Camp Fire, which killed at least 86 people and destroyed about 14,000 homes, making it the state’s deadliest fire.

The company’s stock was largely unchanged Thursday morning. PG&E shares have lost more than 80 percent of their value in the last six months.

Critics, including famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich and activist hedge fund BlueMountain Capital Management (which owns about 11 million shares), have rebuked the company, alleging that the board is using Chapter 11 to ‘abdicate’ its responsibility to shareholders when it isn’t clear the company is insolvent.”

Solar continues to prove itself as the energy of the future. We are hopeful that in the future, clean, renewable energy will help to prevent such disasters as the Camp Fire, and will remove the possibility of those consequences being passed on to the ratepayer. News like this only strengthens our resolve to deliver clean energy and give the consumer autonomy over their power. 

Read the full story at CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/pge-says-it-might-have-to-quintuple-rates-if-forced-to-clear-trees.html

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