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War, Cold Weather Drive Up Bay Area PGE Bills 18%+

In a message sent to customers, Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) shared that a combination of factors including cold weather and high natural gas prices (caused by the War in Ukraine) will result in higher PGE bills for Bay Area customers this winter.

“On average, PG&E combined gas and electric residential customers may see a bill increase of about 18% (or $47) per month this winter compared to last winter,” PGE said in their statement. The increase could be substantially higher for larger or poorly insulated homes that already had high PGE bills before the increase.

PGE acknowledge this, saying “Customers using more gas to heat their homes will see higher heating bills.”

PGE also offers the disclaimer that “We do not control market prices for gas and electricity and do not markup the cost of gas and electricity that we purchase on behalf of our customers.” The increase in prices is not due to PGE’s liability for wildfires or other factors that increase the utility’s own costs.

Instead, the increases are likely due to the cold weather the Bay Area has been experiencing, as well as overall increases in the price of energy due to the War in Ukraine. Other regions, such as Europe, have seen even higher increases than the Bay Area.

Bay Area residents are already taking note of the increased prices. “Just got an email telling me my bill is $278. More than 2x what it was last month which was the previous record for the most expensive utility bill I have ever received,” one person wrote on an online discussion board.

PGE says that it’s working to keep costs down as much as possible.

“We are buying gas at times of the year when prices are lowest and storing it for use later. We’re also cutting our operating and maintenance costs, taking actions such as undergrounding power lines to reduce recurring maintenance costs, and selling our San Francisco Office to return $400M to customers over five years,” the utility says.

Much of that work was slated to take place anyway, so it’s not really a cost reduction targeted to natural gas prices. Still, those efforts may help to blunt the impact of what promises to be a pricey winter for many in the Bay Area.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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