Rates for Pacific Gas & Electric customers are set to increase by $269.8 million at the beginning of next year, the California Public Utilities Commission voted Dec. 16. That vote results in a 1.6 percent increase in average system rates. Commissioners took into consideration rate increases expected under PG&E\u2019s proposed general rate case for next year of $856 million. Those increases are nearly negated by a $984.9 decrease in the Department of Water Resources revenue requirement to pay for 2000-01 energy crisis era contracts. The increase is primarily due to the utility\u2019s \u201csmart meter\u201d program, as well as new spending on distribution and generation, according to the commission. If a utility under or over-collects on its rates, regulators have accounting mechanisms to \u201ctrue-up\u201d the collections. Overcharges are refunded to current customers. In a related true up account move, commissioners also approved $10 million to be refunded to Southern California Edison customers for a base revenue requirement balancing account imbalance.