Valley residents prepare to fight PG&E rate increase

FRESNO, Calif.

If the proposal is approved everyone's bill will be about $12.00 more, but Raquel Magallanes says even a small increase will make a big dent.

Magallanes connects her stove to propane to conserve every possible bit of energy and keeps it outside. She prepares every meal in her backyard- no matter the weather.

Her family keeps the lights off and rarely do they use the air conditioner or heater.

Magallanes told us in Spanish, "In the winter I limit myself to the heater and I have bone problems because of the cold."

With as much as they try to conserve, and even though they're on a low-income assistance program through PG&E, their bill usually tops a hundred dollars. Her last bill was near 200.

Magallanes says every payment, every month is stressful. Any increase will affect food, gas and clothes. She says she voiced her concerns about a rate increase to the public utilities commission at a Wednesday night meeting because she's worried about the possibility of having to pay more.

"I went so they could hear my voice representing the residents they're afraid and don't want to speak I went on behalf of them," said Magallanes.

PG&E says those on assistance programs wouldn't be affected, and that the increase will help the utility modernize.

PG&E spokesperson Jeff Smith said, "We've got an aging infrastructure in order to make sure that infrastructure is updated and continues to be safe it needs to be updated and modernized."

The Public Utilities Commission also heard from people in favor of the increase. Some spoke of the need to hire qualified employees, and some even said the infrastructure in the Central Valley is so old it could be compared to a third world country.

Raquel Magallanes says while she appreciates the need for new equipment, she also needs to spare every penny she has.

The Public Utilities Commission is still asking for input on the proposed rate increase. They'll be holding a number of hearings on the matter and will make a decision at the end of the year.

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