Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would allow local utilities to charge their customers to offset costs and expenses associated with the 2017, and now 2018, wildfires.
Like many people, when we first read the reports, we were concerned. If PG&E could pass on these costs to their customers with rate increases, the already increasing cost of energy in California could sky rocket.
But, the legislation does more than meets the eye
The legislation does more than just allow the utility company to pass on costs associated with the wildfires freely to consumers.
- First, before the utility company could pass on costs to consumers, the Public Utilities Commission would first have to determine whether a utility could recover costs through higher bills to consumer.
- Second, the bill includes a $5 billion plan to reduce wildfires. The forestry management funding in the bill will make broad changes that encourage local communities to better plan for wildfires.
- Third, the bill provides provision for fire victims, past and future; upgrades to the electricity grid safety, establishing past and future wildfire-related financial responsibilities for PG&E and ensuring that money burdens do not push PG&E into bankruptcy.
Plus, PG&E is a major employer in the state. And without the infrastructure of PG&E, there is no way that California can reasonably achieve their clean energy goals. PG&E is a necessary part of California that cannot be overlooked.
The bill is still perceived as a bailout for the giant utility PG&E. It provides extra financial protections to a company that has been labeled as negligent in managing electrical lines and the safety of the people and communities they serve. Consumers cannot understand why they should have to ‘foot the bill’ to fix damages of the company – and the company should have to be held accountable for their actions.
Second, the cost of the surcharge that is associated with the bill is quite high. Just taking into consideration the costs of the 2017 fires, the average PG&E customer is predicted to pay a surcharge that is approximately $5.10 per $1B worth of damages. Current damages in 2017 are over $10B already…meaning, the average PG&E customer can expect a surcharge of at least $50 added to their bill over the next 20 years. For many PG&E customers, that is a lot of money.
Solar Is Still the Simple Choice
The massive wildfires in California are devastating. And like many devastating events, there is no simple solution. The layers that surround the tragedy are complex and difficult to unravel. As a solar company, the one thing that we can stand behind is our technology. Solar alleviates the uncontrollable costs associated with dependency on PG&E. A residential or commercial solar system means that you control your costs and you can predict what your costs are. There is no doubt that our dependency on energy is increasing. Our demand for clean, renewable energy is growing. Solar is a simple solution. It helps keep our air clean and helps us remain in control of accessing the much-needed electricity we need to maintain our quality of life. When you are ready to conquer your energy usage and control your electricity, reach out to one of our Energy Advisers, today.
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