The California Public Utilities Commission granted Pacific Gas & Electric the right to raise consumer electricity prices $1.51 billion, in part to pay for adding renewable power to the grid. The rate hike is merely the latest in a string of rate hikes across the nation to pay for high-cost renewable power.
Spread out over California’s 13 million households, the rate hike amounts to over $100 per household.
Wind turbines litter the otherwise pristine Altamont Pass in California. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The left-of-center Brookings Institution documents that wind power raises electricity prices by 50 percent. Solar power triples electricity prices, according to Brookings.
PG&E, like most monopoly utilities, is guaranteed a profit determined by how much money the utility spends. The more money PG&E spends on expensive power, the higher its profits.
PG&E boasts on its website that it produces 33 percent of its power from “eligible renewable resources, such as wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and small hydro.”
The rate hike “will help us continue to provide safe and reliable energy to our customers in a way that supports California’s ambitious clean energy goals while keeping customer bills as low as possible,” PG&E spokesperson Donald Cutler told the San Francisco Chronicle.
A full-spectrum environmental analysis shows that hydro power, nuclear power, and natural gas are all more environmentally friendly than the wind power being added to the California grid. Hydro, nuclear, and natural gas are all less expensive than wind and solar power, the Brookings Institution reports.