FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Fresno city officials are asking the state to reject a PG&E proposal that would increase utilities by over 20%.
Mayor Jerry Dyer calls the move “unfair and unacceptable,” and while a PG&E spokesperson said the rate is needed to make improvements, many residents say they worry that the increase could break the bank.
“I am looking at barely keeping my nose above water, it is not even my head, it is my nose,” said Fresno resident Lisa Flores.
Flores, who is on a discounted PG&E payment plan, said the increase in the prices of gas, insurance, groceries, and rent will make her unable to afford another price hike on her utility bill.
“The question is where do you find the money if you don’t have it,” says Flores. “This sort of long-term impact, impact to things like my copay for my glasses, it is either keep my lights on or I see. Which is it?”
Under the proposal, PG&E customers’ energy rates would increase by 22% from 2023-2026, with the first year seeing an 18% increase. Paul Moreno, a spokesperson for PG&E, says the average Central Valley customer would pay approximately one additional dollar per day.
Moreno says the rate will help to pay for wildfire safety and help “continue to deliver safe reliable energy to our customers.”
According to a study done by UC Berkeley, PG&E customers pay 80% more per kilowatt-hour than the national average.
Due to differences in climate Central Valley cities pay more than the coastal and Bay Area cities.
Mayor Jerry Dyer and the Fresno City Council sent letters to Governor Newsom, the California Public Utilities Commission, and Assemblyman Jim Patterson to ask the state to freeze PG&E rates and require the utility company to look at other cost-cutting measures.
“This is not sustainable,” said Dyer. “We are at a rate crisis and what we need is the people to step up and say we are done.”
Officials say 23% of Fresno residents live in poverty.
Patterson, who is also Vice-Chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee, sent a statement that reads:
“I am taking the City’s opposition directly to the CPUC board and its President, Marybel Batjer,” said a statement from Jim Patterson, vice-chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee. “These huge increases hurt us here more than elsewhere in the state. We have hotter summers and colder winters. It’s time for rates that reflect that reality.”
Dyer said if the state does not grant the freeze he would look into options that include the creation of a city utility company.
The CPUC has opened a public forum for those who would like to comment on the proposal.
Those interested can also contact the CPUC at (415) 703-1584 or email PublicAdvocatesOffice@cpuc.ca.gov.