Will your PG&E bill go up or down? How a key vote by California regulators could impact you


Californians already pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Now, regulators are poised to vote on a proposal to change how investor-owned utilities (IOUs) charge their customers. In KCRA 3’s coverage area of Northern California, this would impact Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers. Experts say the revenue-neutral change for utilities could save some people — namely those with low incomes and electric car owners — money on their monthly bill while others will pay more.Coming Up Tonight at 11 p.m. on KCRA 3 | A former Public Utilities Commission president calls out current commissioners over how they have handled recent rate increases. Plus, KCRA 3 Investigates breaks down what experts say about how a new proposal would impact your monthly bill. Here’s what you need to know about the proposed decision, which lawmakers ordered as part of a 2022 law. Residential electricity bills would have 2 parts: a usage rate and a flat rate. California has been one of the only states where IOUs like PG&E do not have a flat rate for infrastructure and maintenance costs. In contrast, publicly-owned utilities like SMUD in Sacramento have flat rates.The new system is aimed at reducing the cost for people heavily impacted by extreme weather like a heat wave and also those who charge their electric cars at home.Usage Rate: The proposal would lower the usage rate by 5-7 cents per kilowatt hour. The rate would still vary throughout the day to encourage conservation, according to a fact sheet from the Public Utilities Commission. Rates for customers of the state’s big three utilities could fall between 8% and 9.8% during peak hours, The Associated Press reported. Flat Rate: The proposed flat rate would be $24.15 per month, the same amount as SMUD’s flat rate. This flat rate would be discounted for people with lower incomes, $6 or $12 depending on the program. The CPUC says the $24.15 rate it recommends is on the lower end of a slate of proposals that topped out at $73. PG&E had recommended a $51 flat fee. How much money would people save? It would depend on where you live, your income and how much electricity you use. PG&E customers are divided into “climate zones,” and most of those in KCRA 3’s coverage area are in the climate zone “S.” Bills of PG&E customers with average usage would save about $1.47 a month. People enrolled in the low-income program, California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), would save $5.74 a month with PG&E. About 30% of IOU customers make up this category, according to the state. That changes to $12.63 savings for those PG&E customers who are enrolled in another income-qualified program, Family Electricity Rate Assistance (FERA).Those who live in other climate zones aren’t as fortunate. PG&E customers in climate zone “Z” in the northernmost part of the state who aren’t enrolled in low-income programs would see an increase of $11.50 in their monthly bill. People in the Santa Cruz area, climate zone “T,” would have a $9.11 increase. People with electric cars would benefit under the new systemThe state says that a customer who electrified their home and vehicle would save $28-44 a month on average, compared to the current rates. Customers who already don’t use very much power don’t get the benefit of a lower hourly rate. When would the change take effect? The PUC is meeting on Thursday. Should commissioners approve the change, it would take effect starting in 2026 for PG&E customers. Learn more about the proposal here. See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

Californians already pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Now, regulators are poised to vote on a proposal to change how investor-owned utilities (IOUs) charge their customers.

In KCRA 3’s coverage area of Northern California, this would impact Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers. Experts say the revenue-neutral change for utilities could save some people — namely those with low incomes and electric car owners — money on their monthly bill while others will pay more.

  • Coming Up Tonight at 11 p.m. on KCRA 3 | A former Public Utilities Commission president calls out current commissioners over how they have handled recent rate increases. Plus, KCRA 3 Investigates breaks down what experts say about how a new proposal would impact your monthly bill.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed decision, which lawmakers ordered as part of a 2022 law.

Residential electricity bills would have 2 parts: a usage rate and a flat rate.

California has been one of the only states where IOUs like PG&E do not have a flat rate for infrastructure and maintenance costs. In contrast, publicly-owned utilities like SMUD in Sacramento have flat rates.

The new system is aimed at reducing the cost for people heavily impacted by extreme weather like a heat wave and also those who charge their electric cars at home.

Usage Rate: The proposal would lower the usage rate by 5-7 cents per kilowatt hour. The rate would still vary throughout the day to encourage conservation, according to a fact sheet from the Public Utilities Commission.

Rates for customers of the state’s big three utilities could fall between 8% and 9.8% during peak hours, The Associated Press reported.

Flat Rate: The proposed flat rate would be $24.15 per month, the same amount as SMUD’s flat rate. This flat rate would be discounted for people with lower incomes, $6 or $12 depending on the program.

The CPUC says the $24.15 rate it recommends is on the lower end of a slate of proposals that topped out at $73. PG&E had recommended a $51 flat fee.

How much money would people save?

It would depend on where you live, your income and how much electricity you use.

PG&E customers are divided into “climate zones,” and most of those in KCRA 3’s coverage area are in the climate zone “S.” Bills of PG&E customers with average usage would save about $1.47 a month.

People enrolled in the low-income program, California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), would save $5.74 a month with PG&E. About 30% of IOU customers make up this category, according to the state.

That changes to $12.63 savings for those PG&E customers who are enrolled in another income-qualified program, Family Electricity Rate Assistance (FERA).

Those who live in other climate zones aren’t as fortunate. PG&E customers in climate zone “Z” in the northernmost part of the state who aren’t enrolled in low-income programs would see an increase of $11.50 in their monthly bill. People in the Santa Cruz area, climate zone “T,” would have a $9.11 increase.

People with electric cars would benefit under the new system

The state says that a customer who electrified their home and vehicle would save $28-44 a month on average, compared to the current rates.

Customers who already don’t use very much power don’t get the benefit of a lower hourly rate.

When would the change take effect?

The PUC is meeting on Thursday. Should commissioners approve the change, it would take effect starting in 2026 for PG&E customers. Learn more about the proposal here.

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.


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