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PG&E General Rate Case Settlement to Strengthen Safety, Reduce Wildfire Risk

Jan. 8, 2020
Pacific Gas and Electric's 2020 General Rate Case funds a series of important additional safety investments to safely serve customers.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) recently reached a settlement in its 2020 General Rate Case (GRC) which funds a series of important additional safety investments to help protect the 16 million people the utility serves.

The parties involved in the settlement agreement agreed that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) should approve funding for the PG&E’s ongoing wildfire prevention efforts, risk monitoring, emergency response, increased vegetation management, hardening of the PG&E’s electric system, and other new and enhanced safety measures to further reduce wildfire risk. The GRC settlement agreement also includes funding for electric and gas distribution safety and reliability, and power generation.

The settlement was filed on Dec. 20, 2019 with the CPUC.

"These efforts support the PG&E’s most important responsibility, which is the safety of our customers and the communities we serve," said PG&E Utility CEO and President Andy Vesey. "This agreement furthers our commitment to deliver safe and reliable energy to our customers, including making our system more resilient to the growing threat of wildfires."

Among the important wildfire safety investments in the GRC are the following components of the PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program:

  • Installing stronger, more resilient poles and covered power lines in the highest fire-threat areas;
  • Increasing ongoing work to keep power lines clear of branches from an estimated 120 million trees with the potential to grow or fall into overhead power lines, including annual vegetation inspection of approximately 81,000 miles of high-voltage electric distribution lines;
  • Implementing SmartMeter technology to more quickly identify and respond to fallen power lines;
  • Expanding the network of weather stations to enhance weather forecasting and modeling by adding 1300 new weather stations in high fire-risk areas by 2022; and
  • Installing nearly 600 new high-definition (HD) cameras in high fire-threat areas, increasing coverage across these areas to more than 90%.

The settlement agreement also calls for further investigation in technologies and strategies that minimize the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), among the tools the PG&E uses to reduce wildfire risks.

While the GRC will help fund a series of important safety investments, it will not fund potential claims resulting from the 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires. It also will not fund any PG&E Corp. or Utility officer compensation.

If the CPUC approves the settlement agreement, the average monthly bill for a typical residential electric and gas customer would increase by US$5.69 a month or 3.4%. This includes US$4.90 for electric and US$0.79 for gas service. The resulting rate change would occur in 2020 following the CPUC’s decision and revised rates through 2022.

“The PG&E’s commitment is to keep customer bills as low as possible while meeting our responsibilities to safely serve our customers, even as our changing climate presents significant new challenges and risks,” Vesey said.

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