FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With PG&E asking state regulators for a rate hike, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and City Council President Luis Chavez called Thursday for a freeze on electricity rates.
PG&E is requesting that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approve a residential rate change that would increase prices by a total of 22% between 2023 and 2026.
Low-income families enrolled in the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program would face an 18.3% first-year increase if the rate hike is approved.
Both Chavez and Dyer noted that increasing CARE power prices would impact over 23% of Fresno residents who live in poverty.
"When I began my term as Fresno's Mayor, I outlined my One Fresno vision, where all citizens have access to an improved quality of life," Dyer said in a letter to the CPUC. "Unfortunately, enormous PG&E bills are a significant threat to most of our disadvantaged
communities and struggling families trying to make ends meet."
Chavez and Dyer also point out that because of the Central Valley's hotter climate, Fresno residents often need to buy more electricity than people in coastal, northern or mountain regions.
Because the CPUC allows PG&E to charge fees for programs like wildfire prevention and nuclear powerplant decommissioning based on usage, Chavez and Dyer say Central Valley residents are made to pay for an excessive and disproportionate share of the cost
of those programs.
Fresno is also challenging PG&E to find ways to cut costs within their organization.
Chavez and Dyer say current rates should be frozen until their proposed reforms are being implemented.
The CPUC will hold hearings later this year to allow the public to speak. Dyer has asked for some of the hearings to be held in Fresno. For more information, click here.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson also released a statement regarding the possible PG&E rate hike, saying, "As the Vice-Chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee for the last eight years, I have the same concerns Mayor Dyer has. It seems like no one in Sacramento is listening." I am taking the city's opposition directly to the CPUC board and its President, Marybel Batjer. These huge increases hurt us here more than elsewhere in the state. We have hotter summers and colder winters. It's time for rates that reflect that reality."