PG&E sneaks in last-minute rate hike request to California regulators on final business day of 2023

SAN FRANCISCO – Reviled California utility Pacific Gas & Electric used the last business day of 2023 to slip in an eleventh-hour request for state regulators to approve a whopping 13 percent rate increase for its captive customers in 2024.

If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, the last-minute proposal would result in the typical PG&E customer’s electricity bill soaring by an additional $34.50 a month, or $414 more a year, PG&E’s press statement says

It’s the latest effort by PG&E to reap more money from its 16 million captive customers, following a pattern of rate increases. As recently as November, the CPUC approved one such steep rake hike, which added an average of $32.50 to utility bills.

Remarkably, there are no restrictions on the frequency or size of rate hike requests PG&E can make to state regulators. So PG&E customers find themselves grappling with some of the highest electric and gas bills in the nation, with no end in sight to the rate rises.

Critics, including EWG President and Marin County resident Ken Cook, argue that PG&E consistently exploits the CPUC’s woefully lax rate approval process. The five-member panel almost always bends over backwards to adhere to the company’s demands.   

“PG&E’s path through the CPUC has been one long, unending boulevard of green lights,” said Cook. “The unscrupulous monopoly will use every opportunity to fleece its captive ratepayers, and the unelected members of the commission consistently and dutifully comply.”

PG&E spent much of 2023 pushing the CPUC to approve a series of rate hikes, claiming the sky-high increases to the monthly bills of its customers are necessary to improve wildfire safety measures and build out more infrastructure, including new power lines.

Not content simply to fleece its captive customers for their electricity bills, the much-criticized Bay Area power company also led a successful push for the CPUC to help crush California’s popular residential rooftop solar program. PG&E was backed in that bid by the state’s two other investor-owned utilities.

The CPUC approved the utilities’ plan to dismantle financial incentives that gave working families access to solar and its many benefits, including lower electricity bills. The decision has also been disastrous for the more than 17,000 well-paid jobs lost as a result from the state’s once-booming solar industry, with more job losses expected in 2024. 

California had the opportunity to make PG&E a publicly owned utility after the reviled utility faced $30 billion in liability for starting a series of deadly wildfires, including the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. PG&E was ultimately convicted of 84 counts of manslaughter and sought bankruptcy protection from the state in 2019.

Since then, the company has been financially rewarded to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, much of it from rate increases approved by the CPUC.

Unlike its ratepayers and the tens of thousands of solar industry workers who've lost their jobs, PG&E’s shareholders received positive news as the company announced the reinstatement of its quarterly dividend, set to commence payouts starting in January.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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