California’s largest utility – PG&E – is showing that, despite the fact that the utility’s most recent general rate case actually reduced the top-tier rates for residential customers, upper-tier rates may again increase significantly in the near future.
Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a PG&E rate case reducing the number of residential tiers – from five to four – and reducing the rates which customers with high electricity usage must pay. The utility now claims, however, that absent dramatic rate reform, these top-tier residential rates must be significantly increased in order for the utility to make needed investments and meet their revenue requirements.
Of course, one of the primary reasons which California homeowners and businesses choose to go solar is to avoid paying these extremely high upper-tier rates – which now top out in PG&E territory at 33.5 cents per kilowatt-hour – nearly three times the national average residential electricity rate of 11.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
PG&E calls these projected rate increases “unsustainable.” Indeed they are. While the utility and policymakers consider solutions, over 120,000 homeowners and businesses in California are now avoiding these dilemmas altogether by using solar to significantly offset electrical bills with clean renewable energy.