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PG&E CEO: Soaring California power bills poised to start dropping

The head of California’s largest utility, facing mounting scrutiny over surging power bills, said that trend is poised to stop and may soon reverse.

PG&E Corp. customers could see bills drop as soon as next year, Chief Executive Officer Patti Poppe said in an interview Thursday. The utility, which serves Northern and Central California, has sharply raised rates as it fortifies its system against wildfires, which drove the company into bankruptcy in 2019. But the higher bills, including a 13% jump in January, have provoked a public outcry and push-back from state legislators.

Poppe said the recent hikes have been partly driven by the utility’s need to collect revenue for its infrastructure investments from both 2023 and 2024 in this year’s bills. Some of those are one-time charges that will end next year, she said.

“We know that will roll off,” Poppe said. “We’re going to be working hard to lower prices for our customers.”

A slide in the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, issued Thursday, shows a steep hike in customer bills for 2023 and 2024 followed by a slight, projected decline during the next two years.

PG&E reported net income of $732 million for the first quarter, up 29% from the same period last year. California regulators approved in December a plan for PG&E to collect an additional $2 billion from customers in 2023 and 2024 to pay for operations and fire prevention work.

Source: Orange County Register

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