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Shocking Surge: The Struggle Against PG&E's 36.2% Electricity Rate Hike in Fresno

In a recent development that has raised concerns among Fresno residents, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has submitted an application to the California Public Utilities Commission, seeking approval for a significant rate increase for electric and gas services in 2023. If approved, this move could result in an overall electricity rate increase of 36.2%, impacting households and businesses throughout Fresno. The proposal, which calls for incremental hikes spread across the year, has garnered attention and sparked debates about its potential consequences for a community already facing economic challenges.

The Proposed Increases

The rate increase plan put forward by PG&E comprises several incremental hikes throughout 2023, with the most substantial jump occurring in September. Fresno City Mayor Jerry Dyer has outlined the proposed increases as follows:

  • January: 3.3%

  • March: 3.7%

  • June: 5.7%

  • September: 23.5%

Mayor Dyer's Concerns

Mayor Jerry Dyer has expressed strong reservations about the proposed rate increases, particularly in light of the challenges faced by the Fresno community. With 25% of Fresno's population living below the poverty line, the mayor argues that burdening residents with a 36% recommended increase in their electricity bills is unjustifiable. He also highlighted that this comes on top of a previous 39% increase over the past three years, which, when combined, could result in a staggering 75% rise in electric and gas service costs over a four-year period.

PG&E's Response

In response to the concerns raised by Mayor Dyer and Fresno residents, PG&E released a statement acknowledging the importance of providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy. The company clarified that it does not control market prices for gas and electricity, and it does not mark up the cost of the energy it purchases on behalf of customers. PG&E emphasized its commitment to supporting customers through rate plan options, energy-saving programs, and financial assistance initiatives. The company also highlighted the upcoming Climate Credit and debt relief programs aimed at providing some relief to customers' bills.

Local Economic Context

Fresno County faces its own set of economic challenges, with a poverty rate of 20.6%, which is 1.5 times higher than the statewide rate for California. In this context, the proposed rate increase has stirred strong opposition from community members, who argue that such a significant financial burden should not be placed on already struggling households.

Community Impact and Call for Action

The potential consequences of a 36.2% electricity rate increase in Fresno extend beyond the financial strain on residents. It could impact the overall quality of life, limit economic mobility, and exacerbate existing disparities. Community leaders and advocates are calling for transparent discussions between PG&E and local stakeholders to find a balanced solution that ensures reliable energy without imposing undue hardships on vulnerable residents.

The proposed 36.2% electricity rate increase by PG&E in Fresno has ignited a conversation about the affordability and accessibility of essential utilities for all residents, especially those facing economic challenges. As debates continue, it is imperative for all parties involved to work collaboratively to find solutions that balance the need for reliable energy services with the financial well-being of the community. Ultimately, the outcome will have a far-reaching impact on Fresno's residents, underscoring the importance of addressing such critical issues with careful consideration and empathy.

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