Central Valley municipalities continue to take sides with PG&E’s request for rate increases over the next few years.
The City of Merced took steps Monday to join Fresno in publicly opposing the utility’s proposed rate increases.
The Merced City Council unanimously supported a resolution to oppose the increases and will officially approve the resolution with a vote at a future meeting.
PG&E made a request to the California Public Utilities COmmission (CPUC) in June to increase rates by an average of 19 percent from 2023-2026, which would see residential customers faced with a 22 percent increase.
Merced’s resolution will call on the CPUC to reject the rate increase and institute a rate freeze instead that should not be lifted until “the implementation of true and equitable rate reforms.”
The resolution also calls on PG&E to identify internal cost cutting and spending control measures, including the substantial reduction of non-essential expenses.
Mayor Matthew Serratto said the City of Fresno – which passed a similar resolution in September – approached Merced to join the fight against the utility.
Councilman Fernando Echevarria summed up the council’s will.
“The community, being a disadvantaged community – I’m for this 100 percent,” Echevarria said.
Councilman Delray Shelton noted the difficulty that Merced residents already have in paying their utility bills.
“We have issues with people being able to meet the demand of bills now, especially when it comes to PG&E, so on and so forth, utilities in general. I actually think this is a bit ridiculous if you ask me,” Shelton said.
“We struggle with raising garbage and water rates a dollar, let alone something like this.”
Beyond the cities of Fresno and Merced, the San Joaquin Valley push to stop the rate hike has, thus far, gained its most visible support from the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.
That panel followed the suit of Fresno city officials one week after the public campaign was introduced by Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.
Efforts to bring additional Valley counties aboard the public opposition, however, have stalled out.
In recent weeks, both Madera and Kings County’s Boards of Supervisors opted to punt the issue when brought forward onto the docket, demanding to hear from PG&E officials about the proposal.