- The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a $193 million 2015 revenue increase for Pacific Gas & Electric's gas transmission and storage business, a 27% increase over 2014 levels.
- On the same day, the CPUC granted amounts that San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) company was also allowed to recover: $1.79 billion for SDG&E's combined operations and $2.20 billion for SoCalGas. Regulators said the decision provides adequate funds for the utilities to perform pipeline inspections, testing and maintaenance work on their distribution pipelines.
- The average PG&E customer will see monthly rates rise from almost $51 to $57, though regulators said those amounts will decrease after $850 million in penalties related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline disaster are implemented in the next phase of the case.The rate increase reflects the cost of keeping the "massive" gas system safe, according to CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman, who authored the commission's decision. It was approved 4-0.
Six years after the San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people, the tragic accident continues to influence PG&E's rate proceedings.
“Our decision today reflects the costs that PG&E needs to operate its natural gas and storage systems and to continue to make them as safe as possible," Peterman said in a statement. "PG&E’s pipeline system is massive. If its pipelines were stretched from California to New York and back again, there would still be pipeline remaining."
Peterman added that the commission's decision adopted recommendations to assign costs to shareholders "and to reduce forecast costs in order to increase affordability without compromising needed safety investments.”
The commission said it would ensure that PG&E allocates the funds as ordered through ratemaking mechanisms, enforceable CPUC orders, and compliance reporting. The decision sets PG&E’s 2015 revenue requirement at $908 million, an increase of almost $193 million over 2014 requirements, though the amount is expected to decrease in the next phase of the San Bruno penalty case.
The accident, and the utility's reaction to it, continues to make headlines. In January, a court filing from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco alleged PG&E attempted to dispose of key safety records relating to the explosion.
SDG&E is authorized a 2016 revenue requirement for $1.79 billion, which is $104 million lower than the utility originially requested. For SoCalGas, the CPUC required the gas utility to seperate its costs from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility leaks to ensure they are not reflected in 2017, the next time it files a rate case. And the regulators authorized $38 million for operations and maintenance and $236 million for capital improvements at SoCalGas's underground natural gas storage facility.
The leaks from Aliso Canyon could cause blackouts this summer. Regulators rushed to ensure the grid will remain reliable by drafting a ruling to require Southern California Edison to hold an expedited procurement solicitation for energy storage capacity and allow the utility to expand its demand response offerings.