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PG&E seeks $3.6 billion rate hike for wildfire protection


As California faces another hard-fought wildfire, Pacific Gas & Electric is asking regulators for a $3.6 billion rate hike to help toughen its systems to stop the deadly blaze. could

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas & Electric asked regulators Wednesday for a $3.6 billion rate hike to help pay for hardening its power systems to prevent deadly wildfires.

The nation’s largest electric utility requested an increase in 2023, with half of that increase devoted to wildfire protection, spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo told Sacramento. honey bee.

Bee said the hike would increase the average residential bill for gas and electricity service by $36 a month, although the state’s Public Utilities Commission usually grants only a portion of any requested rate increase.

PG&E, which has about 16 million customers in central and northern California, called for a hike as the state prepares to enter the warmer summer months amid warnings that the state may need its earliest and most dangerous wilderness yet. There is a possibility of facing fire.

Much of the state is already in a state of drought and experts are predicting hot, big and severe blazes across California and across the West.

The Biden administration said Wednesday that it is hiring more federal firefighters – and immediately raising their salaries as the summer looms.

“The truth is we’re playing catch-up on preparedness for extreme heat and wildfires, Biden said, calling federal efforts “under-resourceful” compared to the deadly threat posed by climate change and extreme drought.

In northern California, thousands of people were ordered to be evacuated as a fire broke out about 250 miles (402.34 km) north of San Francisco.

PG&E equipment has been blamed for fueling some of the state’s deadliest wildfires in recent years, most notably in 2017 and 2018 when a series of wildfires burned more than 28,000 buildings and 100 took the lives of more people.

The devastation prompted PG&E to spend 17 months in bankruptcy court, where it negotiated a $13.5 billion settlement with some wildfire victims. This resulted in the company pleading guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in Butte County, where the City of Paradise was wiped out by the Camp Fire in 2018.

State investigators have also linked PG&E equipment to the 2019 fires in Sonoma County that forced nearly 200,000 people out of their homes last year and the Shasta County fire that killed four people last year . The utility has estimated that those disasters could have caused more than $600 million in damages to shareholders.

PG&E emerged from bankruptcy last summer, but thousands were forced to shut down power in rotating blackouts during some dangerous fire conditions in an effort to keep power lines from falling or falling from tree branches or ignite during strong winds. He also went in for criticism.

PG&E said it is spending money to install a self-contained power system to better forecast the weather, detect down lines more quickly, and supply power in what’s called a security blackout.

However, the request for a utility rate hike was angrily condemned by The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco-based consumer group.

Mark Tony, the group’s executive director, said in a statement, “This mind-boggling PG&E increase is a slap on the face to the millions of California residents who are still financially hurt by the pandemic and struggling to get back on their feet. Huh.”

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