EDITORS: Please do not use
"Pacific Gas and Electric" or "PG&E" when
referring to PG&E Corporation or its National Energy Group.
The PG&E National Energy Group is not the same company as Pacific
Gas and Electric Company, the utility, and is not regulated by the
California Public Utilities Commission. Customers of Pacific Gas
and Electric Company do not have to buy products or services from
the National Energy Group in order to continue to receive quality
regulated services from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
AND ELECTRIC COMPANY MAKES PRELIMINARY RATE CASE FILING FOR DISTRIBUTION
OF GAS AND ELECTRICITY
Filing Will Not Raise Electric
Rates; Gas Rates to Increase 99 Cents a Month
SAN FRANCISCO - As required
by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Pacific Gas
and Electric Company today submitted to the Office of Ratepayer
Advocates a Notice of Intent for a 2003 General Rate Case (GRC)
The request will not increase
customers' overall electric rates, which are comprised of several
components, as it will be offset by anticipated reductions in electric
commodity and other costs, which will occur before this GRC takes
effect in January 2003.
On the gas side, the average
natural gas bill for residential customers would increase by approximately
99 cents per month (2.6 percent), from $37.95 to $38.94.
"PG&E believes that our
customers can see declining overall rates in the future even as
we invest in our infrastructure to keep up with growth and deliver
safe and reliable gas and electric service," said Gordon R. Smith,
president and chief executive officer of Pacific Gas and Electric
Company. "In fact, we will shortly file an advice letter with the
CPUC to allow the one-half cent per kWh rate increase the Commission
imposed last year to expire this June."
In total, the filing represents
increases of $71 million (natural gas) and $407 million (electric),
or a total of $478 million above the current level of authorized
Revenue increases are required
for gas and electric distribution to meet the needs of hundreds
of thousands of new customers, maintain current service levels to
existing customers, and to adjust for wages and inflation. From
2000 through 2002, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has invested
a total of $3 billion dollars into its gas and electric distributions
systems to keep the lights on and the gas flowing. In that same
timeframe, the company added approximately 300,000 new customers.
To meet those customers' needs, the company has installed 2,500
miles of overhead electric lines, 1,800 miles of underground electric
lines and 1,350 miles of gas pipeline. In 2003, the company expects
to invest another $1 billion on distribution infrastructure improvements
to serve customers.
The CPUC requires that a
General Rate Case - an exhaustive regulatory review of utility operations
and costs - be performed every three years. The last such GRC process
for Pacific Gas and Electric Company was for base year 1999, and
resulted in the CPUC approving a $469 million increase over 1996
levels, for an average yearly increase in base revenues of $156
million. Today's filing includes an average annual increase of approximately
$157 million, equivalent to the rate of growth the CPUC approved
in the 1999 GRC.
The filing today is also
similar in size and consistent in scope with other investor owned
utilities in California, including Southern California Edison, which
recently submitted its request for a 2003 electric-only distribution
cost increase of $500 million above levels set four years ago.
This regulatory filing applies
only to the costs associated with delivering natural gas and electricity
to customers' homes and businesses. It does not seek to recover
costs incurred as a result of the utility's bankruptcy or its plan
The GRC process requires
that the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) take 25 days to review
the Notice of Intent filing, to ensure the application is adequate
so that the case may proceed. If there are any deficiencies identified
by ORA, the utility then resolves those deficiencies and must wait
60 days to file the actual GRC application with the CPUC. The CPUC
will then assign a Commissioner and an administrative law judge
to oversee the case. Public hearings will allow public participation
prior to the CPUC making its decision. The utility will request
that once approved, the distribution revenue increase would be scheduled
to take effect in January 2003.