Napa Valley Register – May 2, 2019
For the last few decades, California’s largest utilities and the state’s Public Utilities Commission have conducted an elaborate kabuki-style dance every two or three years, whenever the utilities applied for general rate increases.
Now the amounts at stake in these dramatic farces are rising to absurd levels, with all three of the state’s big privately-owned utilities suddenly asking that shareholders get rates of return on investment approximating what they could net from risky junk bonds.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the largest of these, asked in late April to increase shareholder returns from about 10 percent to 16 percent, essentially trying to reward itself and its investors for negligence that led authorities to hold it largely responsible for two huge blazes in less than a year’s time. Southern California Edison, No. 2 in state electricity sales, is gunning for a leap from 10.3 percent to just under 17 percent, while San Diego Gas & Electric seeks a jump from around 10 percent to more than 14 percent.