PG&E profits soar amid spikes for customer gas bills
SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E said Tuesday its profits jumped during the first quarter of 2017, a surge for the embattled utility’s bottom line that coincided with spikes in gas bills for many customers during a harsh winter.
During the January-through-March quarter, PG&E captured $576 million in profits, which were five times the earnings that it harvested during the year-ago first quarter.
“Our results for the quarter reflect PG&E’s strong focus on making the investments in our system that will drive further progress on safety, reliability and achieving California’s clean energy goals,” said Geisha Williams, PG&E’s chief executive officer.
Per-share operating profits that excluded certain one-time items were $1.06 a share, which easily topped Wall Street’s prediction of 81 cents. Operating profits totaled $544 million, up 33.7 percent from a year ago.
Revenue totaled $4.27 billion, a 7.4 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago.
San Francisco-based PG&E, which is a convicted felon after being sentenced on six charges for crimes the utility committed before and after a fatal explosion in San Bruno, is seeking to burnish its image in the wake of the disaster in September 2010 that killed eight people.
Electricity revenue totaled $3.07 billion in the first quarter, a 2.1 percent decrease from the similar period in 2016. Gas revenue in the first three months of 2017 totaled $1.2 billion, which represented a huge jump of 42.7 percent from gas revenue a year ago.
Numerous customers have complained about big increases in their gas bills during the winter, some saying that their monthly costs soared by hundreds of dollars compared to what they normally pay.
“Running the business cost effectively and affordably for customers” are among the key goals for PG&E, Williams said.