How the Profits Upkeep Commission Helps PG&E Pick Your Pocket

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 The next time you pass a power pole consider this: Pacific Gas & Electric expects that pole to be there until the year 2357 and perhaps until 2785.

The average PG&E pole has just nine years of useful life left, according to PG&E’s sworn testimony asking for more money to speed pole replacement. It got money through rate hikes to replace poles on a 50-year cycle, but it has been replacing them on a 346 to 778 year cycle while, by PG&E’s own testimony, diverting that money to other purposes.

The life cycles of power poles are about as mundane as it gets, but that is exactly what PG&E and other corporate-owned utilities count on as they inflate profits by raising rates while deferring replacement of equipment, reducing maintenance and cutting staff.

The result is that you are paying more and more for less reliable utility service. From 2000 to 2011 PG&E electricity prices rose at more than twice the rate of inflation. The Edison Foundation, which represents investor-owned utilities, said in 2006 that utilities were not making enough profit and would require increased rates to improve their systems. Read more here.