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Residents Shouldn't Pay for Upgrades to PG&E Gas System, Hill Says

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill is urging the California Public Utilities Commission not to let PG&E saddle ratepayers for nearly $5 billion in costs for upgrading to the state's aging gas transmission system.

 

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network, will be making a public statement Monday urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to reject Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s (PG&E) proposal to raise utilities rates in order to recoup costs of its long-awaited project to modernize California's gas transmission system - an effort Hill calls "ratepayer gouging."

Hill says, any day now, the CPUC is expected to release a decision proposing, for the first time, how much ratepayers should be billed to fix PG&E's "neglected" gas transmission system.

If the commission grants PG&E’s request to saddle ratepayers with 95 percent of the $5 billion the first phase of PG&E's project is expected to cost, the utility stands to make a $1.5-billion profit from the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas explosion, thanks to a commission policy that grants the utility a generous return on its capital investment, Hill said in a statement released Friday.

Meanwhile, Hill says PG&E and other utilities are using their clout in Sacramento to try and kill his bill, AB 861, which would prohibit ratepayer money from being used to pay for executive incentives based on corporate earnings or share price.

“As a publicly-regulated company, the only way PG&E can increase its earnings is by cutting its operations and maintenance costs, which undermines safety,” Hill said, noting that in the years leading to the San Bruno explosion, PG&E executives were granted bonuses for cutting costs.

Hill is urging the CPUC to require PG&E to pay a fair share of the costs of modernizing its gas transmission system. The commission will be able to vote on the proposed decision 30 days after it is released. 

“Ratepayers shouldn’t have to pay PG&E higher utility bills for a level of service they should have been receiving all along,” Hill said.

Hill and Toney will make an appearance Monday at 10 a.m. in the CPUC courtyard at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco.

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Walt Bishop August 22, 2012 at 01:36 AM
As if a politician has the credibility to address a cost for infrastructure. Politicians are lousy at getting costs not to exceed current revenue. Another "gouge" is the state legislature going to the public with a request to increase the sales tax and to increase the state income tax for high income earners. The real deal are those individuals who sit on the commission with the authority to grant or dismiss the request for a rate increase. If your responsibility is to set rates you would assume that past and current P G & E rate approvals contemplated the cost to maintain the system and to fund a contingency reserve in the event of catastrophe. The individual with the Reform Utility Network should be able to attend the meeting alone and report back to the public with the facts. It does not take a politician to do this.

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