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Pacific Power proposes 25 percent rate increase in Northern California

Power lines in Sacramento County
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Power lines in Sacramento County

The utility Pacific Power is proposing a major increase to electric costs for its Northern California customers.

Around 48,000 customers in California’s Del Norte, Siskiyou and Modoc counties could be expected to pay around 25 percent more for their power.

Allen Berreth is the vice president of operations at Pacific Power. He says the company is following national trends in upgrading their power grids.

"Even with these proposals in this rate case, would still bring us up still lower than some and right in line there with what we’re seeing in the overall California electric utility rates," Berreth says.

Berreth notes PG&E customers have seen a 37 percent increase in their bills since 2013, but Pacific Power’s rates went down around 6 percent over the same period.

Most of the $28 million in extra funding would go towards wildfire mitigation upgrades including covering overhead power lines, installing more shut-off switches and building more weather stations in the region.

Berreth says these investments will help during both wildfires and winter storms.

“When it comes to these programs for wildfire mitigation, we get the benefit not just for reduction in wildfire risk, but these are things that improve the resiliency of our network for the entire year," he says.

For an average household paying around $135 a month (or using 850 kWh), the proposed increase would amount to an extra $33 a month on their electric bill.

The company is also looking to expand its low-income support program which has around 12,000 participating California households. The proposed change would increase the discount from 20 to 25 percent for eligible customers.

The rate proposal goes to California’s Public Utility Commission, which could take over a year to decide.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.