Watch CBS News

San Joaquin County leaders want public to protest another proposed PG&E rate hike

San Joaquin County leaders call for protest of PG&E rate hikes
San Joaquin County leaders call for protest of PG&E rate hikes 02:30

TRACY — San Joaquin County leaders are calling on the public to protest another proposed Pacific Gas and Electric rate hike.

Eric Hawkins was visibly frustrated as he addressed a crowd of local and state lawmakers and other small business owners on Tuesday. He runs Workvine209, a co-working space in Tracy with five sites – but in the last few years, he's closed two.

"A lot had to do with PG&E. We started off averaging about $2,800 a month for PG&E. Now it's $5,000 a month," Hawkins said. "In the summer, we're paying almost $7,000 a month and we're trying to pass that along to customers, but we want to have an affordable price."

Andrew Genasci with the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation says bundled ag prices have gone up 63% in the last four years.

"These increases are unacceptable and unbearable," Genasci said. "If you talk with PG&E now, they want another 8.1% rate hike in the next month."

Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua is working with supervisors to push a pause on the proposed increase.

"Right now, what we're trying to do at the state level is have these hard robust conversations because it affects everyone across the board," Villapudua said.

They say electric rates are already much higher than other utilities, and given San Joaquin County's household income is about $10,000 lower than other counties, it's disproportionately hurting struggling families and those on a fixed income. It's also hurting economic development regionally.

"That money has to come from somewhere," Genasci said. "It comes from not purchasing new equipment, not hiring new people, not giving raises. not being able to do the things we all want to do."

All are pushing the public to file a formal complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission, which is overseeing the rate hike. They also want a Central Valley representative on the board.

Hawkins said he wants his business and the community to continue to grow and thrive

"Especially the small businesses," he said. "They are the heartbeat of our community, and how are we supposed to do this if we keep getting increase after increase after increase?"

PG&E responded by saying: "PG&E is focused every day on making our energy system safe, reliable, and clean for our customers...We are working to keep customer cost increases at or below inflation for the long-term between 2 and 4 percent a year, and we are managing more than 100 projects company-wide to further reduce our costs."

PG&E also says they have a number of programs to help offset bills listed on their website, although, not everyone qualifies.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.