Several Manteca residents were beside themselves when their January bills nearly doubled from December’s.
The most obvious culprit is PG&E’s tiered pricing that hits consumers hard during prolonged cold spells or long periods of excessive heat. That’s what happened to a lot of people in December.
Natural gas, the cheapest method of heating a home, typically costs about 25% more once a customer exceeds baseline usage levels that are different for different climate zones in PG&E territory.
Electricity is a more expensive way to avoid freezing to death, which doesn’t explain why social justice activists are calling on Sacramento to eventually ban the use of significantly lower-cost natural gas based on the BTU unit of energy for heating homes and household water. that later.
Electricity consumption has two levels with an asterisk. The basic amount is the lowest per kilowatt used. Level 2, which represents between 101% and 400% usage beyond baseline usage, triggers about a third higher load per kilowatt.
Then there is the high usage surcharge for electricity consumption which is over 400% of the base. Load per kilowatt is just under 50% greater than initial Level I usage.
All in the name of energy conservation.
In addition to issues that could be related to how a household uses energy, many factors fuel higher PG&E bills.
It would be a little flippant – and entirely correct – to point out that there is a significant cost factor when a company is accused of starting more than 30 wildfires, destroying more than 20,000 homes and contributing to the death of more than 100 customers. And that’s only in the last four years.
But to be fair, it was more than the Eron-inspired era at PG&E that sparked two bankruptcies and stoked the culture that led to failures contributing to wildfire-related issues.
For the record, PG&E as of Tuesday is no longer on federal criminal probation for its serious errors in judgment stemming from the 2006 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that leveled a neighborhood and killed six people.
And they still face the prospect of admitting 84 counts of manslaughter stemming from the 2018 paradise hell.
All of this has a direct impact on PG&E’s cost of doing business.
That said, there are other factors giving Northern Californians stratospheric energy prices relative to the rest of the nation that can be put at the feet of Sacramento politicians.
Due to a state executive order requiring utilities to have a percentage of their power generation portfolio in renewables, PG&E entered into long-term green power contracts.
These are contracts that now require them to purchase electricity from renewable sources at a fixed price significantly above the current market rate. Hindsight is 20-20. By the time PG&E got renewable energy contracts, prices were going up.
Then there are the costs that many PG&E customers are bearing due to another Sacramento initiative imposed on PG&E and other electric providers in the form of subsidies designed to encourage homeowners to install power. residential solar.
It’s not the fault of your neighbors who took advantage of the state mandated program imposed on public services. They were only trying to do what we want, which is to cut PG&E’s piranha-style feeding frenzy on our family budgets.
The way Sacramento dictated the solar deal was that PG&E was to “buy back” excess electricity from those with residential solar power when certain conditions were met. The electricity that PG&E is required to purchase is much higher than the market rate.
As more people installed solar power taking advantage of the state’s solar tax credit, the more expensive “bought back” electricity that PG&E was forced to buy even though it had none no need. Keep in mind that PG&E simultaneously had to significantly expand its own solar power portfolio, resulting in an abundance of excess electricity at the wrong time of day, which created an entirely different set of problems.
This made the cost of the forced buyout program more widespread. These costs are not absorbed by PG&E which is guaranteed a base return – call it profit – of more than 10% by the State of California. Costs are passed on to customers.
This is the good news.
The bad news is yet to come.
PG&E needs billions to fix the issues that put it on Smokey the Bear’s most wanted list and in the crosshairs of district attorneys and class action lawyers from wine country to the Sierra. Among them is a lunar attempt at underground cables on such a scale and in difficult places that they would make the architects of the Marshall Plan swoon.
This will result in PG&E bills reaching perennial nosebleed heights.
This, however, is peanuts compared to the edicts coming out of Sacramento.
The assault on your ability to stay warm or cool and power the luxuries of modern life such as water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, televisions and miscellaneous home tech gadgets, not to mention cars. you’ll be forced to drive as gas-powered cars begin to die after 2035 in California is just beginning.
The push is underway to force the abandonment of natural gas by those who want to phase out anything remotely tied to the doomsday climate change scenario of the day. It doesn’t matter if the bottom line impact is negligible in climate change modeling compared to the social cost of families not bringing in six figures a year to stay warm or cool and able to function in a modern society.
Sacramento’s will is paramount.
And no matter how you chop and dice, you’ll be looking fondly at your January 2022 PG&E bill in the not-too-distant future, as some people remember spending a penny to buy a cup of coffee.
This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at [email protected]