The biggest consumers who tap into Pacific Gas & Electric?s transmission lines could get a 15.2 percent rate decrease, while residential consumers might see rates go down 4.1 percent, if a January 15 deal is approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. This week?s settlement, among PG&E and more than a dozen consumer groups, would determine who pays for what under the new rates envisioned by PG&E?s bankruptcy reorganization plan. ?It?s nice to see the theory on the gravity of utility rates defied?and have rates actually have a chance at coming down for once,? said Karen Mills, an attorney for agricultural consumers. Small agricultural consumers will get a $0.03\/kWh break. The deal is a result of the promised ratepayer savings with PG&E?s bankruptcy reorganization. It is not contingent on legislation passing the dedicated rate component, according to PG&E spokesperson Ron Low. If legislation is passed to enable its financing, the utility could lower rates by another $1 billion, he added. According to PG&E, its 4.3 million residential electric customers would see rates drop to about $0.126\/kWh from the current $0.13\/kWh. ?Business customers, who paid most of the costs from the emergency surcharge rates imposed during the energy crisis, would see their rates reduced between nine and fifteen percent, depending on their customer class,? PG&E added. The deal acknowledges that the biggest energy consumers also bore the biggest responsibility for post-energy-crisis rates in PG&E territory. Under the settlement:<ul><li>Direct-access customers would help finance the dedicated rate component of the reorganization plan under the current $0.027\/kWh cap.<\/li> <li>Departing load would not have to bear the costs of the dedicated rate component.<\/li> <li>The legislated 10 percent rate reduction as a part of deregulation legislation would no longer appear on customers? bills but would be rolled into rates.<\/li><\/ul>The rates would remain in effect until Phase 2 of the utility?s general rate case is decided or supplanted by the CPUC.