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Thursday, Jul 10 2014 06:18 PM

Consumer agency proposes cutting PG&E's customer-funded bonuses

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Consumer advocates are asking the California Public Utilities Commission to scale back the amount of executive bonuses customers would have to pay for under a series of rate increases proposed by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The commission's Office of Ratepayer Advocates issued a news release Thursday saying a plan to limit customer contributions to bonuses to $92 million per year doesn't go far enough. The ORA suggested limiting customer funding for the executive bonuses to only $52 million per year.

"Customers must bear increasingly higher energy bills to support utility programs that ensure safe and reliable energy service," the ORA's acting director, Joe Como, said in the release. "But they should not have to pay millions of dollars more for executive and management bonuses."

"If the company wants to award such bonuses, they should be paid for by shareholders."

In 2012, as part of a regularly scheduled rate-setting process, San Francisco-based PG&E filed a three-year plan for increasing its annual revenues by a third to $2.1 billion, or $4.8 billion on a cumulative basis from 2014 to 2016. Any increase would have to be covered by hiking rates paid by the utility's gas and electric customers starting this fall.

Last month, commission staff countered with a proposal to boost PG&E's annual revenues by $1.1 billion, or $2.4 billion cumulatively over three years. That proposal is expected to go before the commission for a final vote as soon as Aug. 14.

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