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PG&E Pushes To Raise Ratepayers' Bills

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- PG&E says it is asking state regulators for another increase in rates and profits. The funds would cover wildfire safety and attract investment as the utility goes through bankruptcy.

According to PG&E's proposal it filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, the utility needs to raise money from investors.

"Meeting the future energy needs of our customers is absolutely critical. In order to invest in the affordable, safe, reliable and clean energy future our customers expect and demand, investors must continue to play a vital role in providing the capital necessary to fund essential safety and reliability infrastructure upgrades," PG&E said in a prepared statement.

Over the next four years, PG&E expects to fund up to $28 billion in energy infrastructure investments, which include new gas pipelines and electric power lines.

If approved by the CPUC, the average monthly bill increase would be about $12, effective January 2020. If an earlier request made in December to help reduce wildfire risk goes through, the average bill would go up about $10 a month, bringing the total increase to about $22.

"That's terrible, I wouldn't like that at all. They have to think of something else," said San Francisco resident Robert Skarda. "They probably should have the stock owners pay a lot of that."

Governor Gavin Newsom's spokesperson released a statement to KPIX 5:

"While California is working hard to reduce wildfire risk and create a sustainable energy future, PG&E is requesting massive increases in costs to ratepayers in order generate profits for investors – all while wildfire victims' claims sit in bankruptcy. The Governor strongly believes ratepayers shouldn't be on the hook for unnecessary increases as the state's process plays out."

Mark Toney, the executive director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), had similar sentiments to Newsom.

"It is outrageous that PG&E is looking for yet another bailout from ratepayers for its negligence when it comes to wildfires," Toney said.

Toney says PG&E should be looking at reducing its profit rate, not increasing it.

Last year, more than 800,000 households had their gas and electricity cut because they fell behind on their bills, according to TURN.

"It makes no sense to make ratepayers pay the price, the customers have done nothing wrong," Toney added.

PG&E did not make anyone available for an on-camera interview on Monday.

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