Balancing Account Opens $424M PG&E Customer Rebate

By Published On: October 9, 2009

Investor-owned utility balancing funds giveth and taketh away. In the most recent case, a proposed California Public Utilities Commission decision refunds $424.4 million in over-collections from Pacific Gas & Electric for energy costs. The one-time bill credit, if approved by regulators this month, would be about $35 for residential customers, according to the proposed decision. Customers would see the credit by the end of 2009. Consumer advocate The Utility Reform Network, and the California Farm Bureau Federation oppose the proposed ratepayer credit. They urge that the money be applied to next year’s Energy Resource Recovery (balancing) Account to avoid any over-collections in 2010 for energy costs--thus avoiding rate increases. The commission set up this category of balancing account to monitor energy procurement costs incurred by the three private utilities. Historically, refunds have been amortized over 12 months. This would be the second time in the last month that regulators would grant a one-time bill credit for over-collecting ratepayer funds. In September, the commission allowed San Diego Gas & Electric to process a one-time credit totaling $124 million. According to the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, the cost of administering balancing accounts, including dispensation if they are found to be over-collected, is not a part of the account itself, but is included in other administrative costs approved by the CPUC.

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