Yes, absolutely, the recent devastating fires in California are going to directly raise my rates, and yours. In the past, there was a way that the CPUC got involved and through the courts, was able to block allowing the large utility companies from passing these costs on to ratepayers.
In 2014, the CPUC granted all three of the large utility companies in California 5 new rate changes a year for 2015 and 2016 due to the San Bruno gas line explosion. The head of the CPUC, Mr. Peavey, was taken out of office by Governor Brown as a result of this decision.
In 2017, San Diego Gas and Electric was seeking $384 million to compensate them for the costs of a fire that was proven to be from their negligence. The courts denied this request. When this news spread, the investor-owned utilities in California began a huge lobbying campaign to get new legislation passed through the state.
In 2018, they got their wishes granted. This new law will allow the utility companies to pass these costs on to the ratepayers, even to an extent costs brought about due to their own negligence. This has been written up in many journals and newspaper articles. https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-passes-bill-to-rescue-utility-facing-fire-costs-1535783276
How much are your rates going to go up? That is going to be a little harder to tell until after the fact because the costs are now being greatly inflated by the huge law firms encouraging individuals and companies involved in these fires to generate high losses. The Napa fire is up to 17 billion dollars and still counting. With 16 million customers, this is about $1000 per customer. If this goes on every year, then you can see where this is going.
PG&E is saying that by using bond money to repay for these fire costs, it will only cost ratepayers $5 each per year. A bond by itself increases the cost, by charging interest. If this goes on every year, being paid with 20 year bonds, within 20 years, the ratepayers will be paying off 20 bonds and this is the same as paying for each year’s fires in one year, which means it will be $1000 per year per customer except now we are also paying the interest. Even low bond rates, over 20 years, the amount repaid is double the amount originally financed.
Is it too late to do anything about it? Yes, the law has been signed and we are going to see our rates climb. The best thing you can do at this point is to get a solar system installed at your residence and place of business so that you will not have to suffer through these rate increases. With solar Net Metering, you get full retail credit for all the power you produce, so your income from your solar system will increase as the retail rates increase. There is no other solution other than moving out of state.
The fires are going to raise your rates. In fact, it has already happened.