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State Sen. Hill to look into higher than normal bills for PG&E customers

'The most important thing consumers can do right now is to take a hard look at their bills,' says senator.

Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara counties) has vowed to look into why some PG&E customers have recently reported higher than normal bills.

According to Hill's office, customers in the Bay Area, as well as the Sacramento Valley, have said that their gas and electric bills were raised significantly during the past winter months.

"My office is looking into the reports of spikes in utility bills," Hill said in a statement. "The most important thing consumers can do right now is to take a hard look at their bills and their power usage-comparing recent month over month and year to year," Hill said.

The Utilities Reform Network, a San Francisco-based advocacy group for utility customers has also said that customers have claimed recently that their gas bills have doubled and even tripled this winter.

"We have seen an increase in customers concerned in these past few weeks," PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said.

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According to Contreras, the higher than normal bills are most likely a result of two recent hike rates and increased energy use during the winter months.

"Our rates have increased by 21 percent since last year," she said, citing a rate increase in August for gas transportation and storage and another increase in January.

"Customers are probably now seeing that because they're using gas more often, especially during this wet, damp and dark season," Contreras said.

According to Contreras, PG&E did let customers know about the rate increases by mail and by phone calls.

Hikes for rates are normally approved by the California Public Utilities Commission and requires a thorough review process involving stakeholder, consumer and business groups, Contreras said.

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"We are hearing the frustrations and we know it poses hardships for our customers, but were here to help them manage their bills and energy use," Contreras said.

PG&E customers can keep track of their energy use by signing up at www.pge.com and creating an account with their account number. There, customers can see energy uses from previous months and even keep track of energy use hour by hour.

Additionally, customers can sign up for text alerts to receive notifications when their energy use surpasses normal usage.

Contreras said customers can also take small steps to help keep their energy use down, including setting the thermostat at 68 degrees, as each degree above 68 uses 3 to 5 percent more energy.

Additionally, setting the thermostat at 56 degrees before leaving the house can keep energy use down.

Also, cleaning lint traps in clothes dryers can help save customers up to $34 a year. Cutting shower times in half can cut also water heater usage by 33 percent, in addition to washing clothes in cold water, Contreras said.

While Hill said he was looking into the reported higher bills, an official investigation has not been launched.

"A reasonable increase in rates was expected but sudden spikes were not," Hill said in his statement.

The California Public Utilities Commission was not immediately available for comment.

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State Sen. Hill to look into higher than normal bills for PG&E customers

'The most important thing consumers can do right now is to take a hard look at their bills,' says senator.

Uploaded: Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 1:55 pm

Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara counties) has vowed to look into why some PG&E customers have recently reported higher than normal bills.

According to Hill's office, customers in the Bay Area, as well as the Sacramento Valley, have said that their gas and electric bills were raised significantly during the past winter months.

"My office is looking into the reports of spikes in utility bills," Hill said in a statement. "The most important thing consumers can do right now is to take a hard look at their bills and their power usage-comparing recent month over month and year to year," Hill said.

The Utilities Reform Network, a San Francisco-based advocacy group for utility customers has also said that customers have claimed recently that their gas bills have doubled and even tripled this winter.

"We have seen an increase in customers concerned in these past few weeks," PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said.

According to Contreras, the higher than normal bills are most likely a result of two recent hike rates and increased energy use during the winter months.

"Our rates have increased by 21 percent since last year," she said, citing a rate increase in August for gas transportation and storage and another increase in January.

"Customers are probably now seeing that because they're using gas more often, especially during this wet, damp and dark season," Contreras said.

According to Contreras, PG&E did let customers know about the rate increases by mail and by phone calls.

Hikes for rates are normally approved by the California Public Utilities Commission and requires a thorough review process involving stakeholder, consumer and business groups, Contreras said.

"We are hearing the frustrations and we know it poses hardships for our customers, but were here to help them manage their bills and energy use," Contreras said.

PG&E customers can keep track of their energy use by signing up at www.pge.com and creating an account with their account number. There, customers can see energy uses from previous months and even keep track of energy use hour by hour.

Additionally, customers can sign up for text alerts to receive notifications when their energy use surpasses normal usage.

Contreras said customers can also take small steps to help keep their energy use down, including setting the thermostat at 68 degrees, as each degree above 68 uses 3 to 5 percent more energy.

Additionally, setting the thermostat at 56 degrees before leaving the house can keep energy use down.

Also, cleaning lint traps in clothes dryers can help save customers up to $34 a year. Cutting shower times in half can cut also water heater usage by 33 percent, in addition to washing clothes in cold water, Contreras said.

While Hill said he was looking into the reported higher bills, an official investigation has not been launched.

"A reasonable increase in rates was expected but sudden spikes were not," Hill said in his statement.

The California Public Utilities Commission was not immediately available for comment.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

the_punnisher
Registered user
North Whisman
on Feb 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm
the_punnisher, North Whisman
Registered user
on Feb 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm

In a similar situation, the City of Boulder Colorado just took over the facilities of Excel( which isn't )after the " smart meters " doubled and tripled some customer energy bills. Boulder now buys energy off the open market.
The bad news: TANSTAAFL! The rest of the ratepayers have had to pay for the $52Million failure of the " showcase " of a Smart City. that Excel ( which isn't ) bragged about. Maybe PG&e RATEPAYERS should be asking the same thing...
To REALLY save money, get rid of the " squiggly bulbs ". They were a scam. They DON'T last longer AND still consume 22 Watts of electricity. And still contain mercury, a known toxic metal you have to get rid of properly.
USE LED BULBS THAT REPLACE ALL YOUR REGULAR AND SPECIAL BULBS!
I have done so in my house; ALL the ceiling fans ( another way to save energy )have them in their light fixtures, outdoor floodlights have special LED bulbs and the shop lights T-40 bulbs can now be replaced.
The good news: your energy consumption drops from a 60 Watt incandescent bulb to a 7 watt LED bulb! That is a THREE TIMES SAVING from the dangerous squiggly bulb! The estimated life is 50,000 hours for LED bulbs. Yes, they may even outlast the people that put them in!
Where to get them? Bypass the middlemen and buy them from CHINA who produces them from our " obsolete " wafer fab equipment. No, it didn't get junked, China has a " Silicon Valley " of their own. The latest prices that include free shipping:
Web Link

All kinds of specialty LED replacement bulbs are listed. I have only had two "infant mortality " failures in over a hundred bulbs.


B
Willowgate
on Feb 8, 2017 at 6:24 pm
B, Willowgate
on Feb 8, 2017 at 6:24 pm

I agree that the CFL bulbs are garbage and LED is the way to go. If you like the warm, slightly yellow glow of incandescent bulbs, then get bulbs with a "color temperature" of 2700K which is a warm white. The higher the number, the more bluish the light. Technically, higher numbers result in a more true white, but you may find you actually prefer the slightly yellowish glow of 2700K which is what we are most accustomed to.
Not sure what LED bulbs have to do with price of natural gas, however. "Hike rates" [sic] suck.


Mt. View Neighbor
North Whisman
on Feb 8, 2017 at 8:47 pm
Mt. View Neighbor, North Whisman
on Feb 8, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Our heating costs are so high that no one in our condo complex uses their heat. Seriously. Right here in a Mountain View. One new resident was out of town most of the month, and he hated the house conservatively for less than two weeks, to the tune of a $400 bill.

So completely over the ripoff!!!


Jes' Sayin'
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2017 at 10:56 pm
Jes' Sayin', Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2017 at 10:56 pm

Heating is not included in my PG&E bill and I was gone several days, yet it still went up noticeably. Something is definitely fishy.


IVG
Rex Manor
on Feb 12, 2017 at 8:35 am
IVG, Rex Manor
on Feb 12, 2017 at 8:35 am

@punnisher:
If you wanted to make yourself understood, please try again. All I got is that you're really mad at someone.


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