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Typical residential customers of San Francisco-based utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) will see a forecast increase of about 2.8%, or $3.38, in their combined electric and natural gas bills due to rate changes in the new year.

According to PG&E, the new rates will be used to pay for higher wholesale energy purchase costs, as well as work to maintain and modernize the utility's infrastructure to meet higher levels of safety and reliability.

Average residential electric rates will increase about 0.6% system-wide, meaning that the bill for a typical residential customer will increase by $0.23, the utility says. PG&E adds that the increase is largely caused by higher forecast costs for buying electricity, including renewable energy to meet state mandates.

PG&E notes that it expects to bring online about 1.2 GW of new capacity from independent renewable energy projects this year after adding nearly 1.4 GW in 2013.

The utility reports that average rates for residential gas customers will increase 7.3% this year. Under normal weather conditions, a typical residential customer bill based on average usage would increase by $3.15. More than half of the increase is caused by a sharp jump in forecast market prices for gas, PG&E says. Other factors include the rising cost of maintaining and upgrading the utility's gas infrastructure, including pipelines and storage facilities, and the cost of mandated social programs, such as energy efficiency and discounts for low-income customers.


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