P G & E Rate Increase

June 11, 2008 7:56:55 PM PDT
Zenaida Machuka is working at her second job as a used car salesperson. Commissions are hard to make these days. "This month's check was only $274 for 2 weeks." The electric bill she just paid was 280-dollars. Machuka relies on shrinking tips for her first job as a waitress. Money is so tight for this single mother of 4 children that she did something she never imagined doing. "They didn't go to school for two days, no money for the bus and no gas to take them to school." So news that P G & E wants to raise its rates by at least 4.5 percent starting in October only adds to her stress. And the power company says it will ask for an additional 2-percent increase in December of 2009. "I barely can make it now so imagine if they higher the rates I'm really going to struggle. I work two jobs I still can't pay it. It's really hard."

P G & E spokesperson Jeff Smith says the utility company is also feeling a financial crunch. "The price of natural gas is going up just like you're seeing the price at the pump go up. Natural gas is what is used to produce a big portion of the electricity that's used in the state."

P G & E says skyrocketing gas prices and low water levels for hydroelectric power are the main reasons for the rate increases.

Machuka says she and her kids have no choice but to take major steps to reduce the family's electric bill. "I hope next month's bill is lower because we're trying to save energy by not washing every day and drying and leaving the ac off even if it's hot we open up the windows."

We should find out fairly soon if the public utility commission approves the rate increase. Machuka says she's going to apply for P G & E energy assistance program called CARE - where low-income and fixed-income families can save 20-percent on their utility bill.

PG&E: Energy Saving Programs

PG&E: CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy)


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