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PG&E electric bills head higher Jan. 1, gas bills will lower

PG&E residential customers will experience an overall increase in their combined electricity and gas bills, starting on Jan. 1, and the embattled utility on Friday filed formal papers that outlined the potential for even higher power costs later in 2020.

Customers who receive combined electricity and gas services from PG&E can expect an increase of $2.64 a month in their utility bills, effective on New Year’s Day, based on average usage. The example is based on the average ratepayer who doesn’t participate in PG&E’s program of discounted rates for low-income customers.

However, it’s only PG&E electricity service costs that will increase, effective Jan. 1. Bills for gas service will be slightly reduced starting New Year’s Day.

Electricity customers who don’t receive the low-income discount will see an increase of $3.29 a month on their bills, which amounts to a 2.7 percent increase, PG&E estimated on Friday.

Gas customers will see a decrease of 65 cents in their monthly bills, or a reduction of 1.3 percent, according to estimates provided Friday by PG&E.

Overall, combined bills for electricity and gas will increase by 1.5 percent.

These bill changes that are slated to start on Jan. 1, 2020 are based on previously finalized votes by key regulatory agencies such as the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

Several other actions are pending before the PUC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that could cause monthly bills to jump even higher.

One example: On Dec. 20, a wide-ranging settlement involving PG&E and several advocacy groups was announced regarding PG&E’s general rate case, an agreement that foreshadowed the prospect of a big increase in monthly utility bills at some point in 2020.

Monthly bills for the average customer who receives gas and electricity from PG&E would rise $5.69 a month, up 3.3 percent from the current monthly bill.

However, the state PUC has yet to take a final vote on the proposed general rate case settlement and the final impact on power bills, as well as the eventual timing, could easily differ from the settlement.

At present, PG&E monthly bills for the typical residential customer are at an average amount of $172.65 for combined electricity and gas services. Starting Jan. 1, those bills would increase to an average of $175.29.

Electricity bills now are at an average of $121.12, and those would increase to $124.41 a month.

Gas bills now average $51.53 a month, and starting Jan 1, they will decrease to $50.88 a month starting on New Year’s Day.

“PG&E typically consolidates changes to its electric rates several times a year to help limit the number of rate changes faced by our electric customers,” the utility said Friday. “PG&E changes its natural gas rates every month, as required by the PUC to better reflect competitive monthly gas market costs.”

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