(bw) CALIFORNIA.— While the value of the dollar has decreased over the last several years and U.S. consumer prices increased to 3.4 percent over 2011 the cost of living continues to raise for Northern and Central California residents.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced Friday, December 30, 2011 that at the start of the New Year, residential customers will see increases in gas and electric rates.
“We know our customers care more than ever about their energy bills during these difficult economic times, so we continue to focus on keeping rate increases as modest as possible while raising enough revenue to continue to provide safe and reliable service,” said Tom Bottorff, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Relations for PG&E. “These revenues help us serve customers by reducing the frequency of electrical outages, improving the responsiveness of our call centers, providing more convenient services and, above all, continuing to upgrade the safety of our system.”
“Although electric and gas rates fluctuate from year to year, we have managed to keep them below the rate of inflation over the past five years,” Bottorff said in defending the decision to increase rates.
According to Fiona Chan in charge of External Communications for PG&E the January electric rate change will provide increased revenues to repair and replace aging infrastructure and invest in clean energy supplies, among other needs. Additionally, Chan says that the electric and gas rates have not been directly affected by PG&E’s costs stemming from the San Bruno tragedy, which have been borne by the utility’s shareholders. Chan says that this increase covers the utility’s costs of buying energy, investing in new plants and equipment, and paying for state mandates such as special programs to help income-qualified customers.