(KRON) — Now that we are in November, we know that in the weeks ahead temperatures will be cooling off and we will be running the heat more. That is bound to increase our utility bills, but they could end up even higher than expected. A PG&E rate hike request could see bills jumping between $20 and 31 per month.

PG&E customers are already seeing their monthly bills increase with cooler weather, but get ready for more. Later this month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will vote on a rate hike that could see the average PG&E gas and electric bill going up $20 to $31 per month beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

Can PG&E do this? No, they cannot, says Dr. Harold Pierre.

Pierre is a member of The Utility Rate Network (TURN) and pastor of San Francisco’s Pilgrim Community Church. He says his parishioners both young adults and especially seniors simply can’t afford these types of increases.

“They just don’t have the income, social security check is not allowing them to do to make their ends meet,” Pierre said.

PG&E’s rate hike request is driven by inflation and to pay for the undergrounding of electric lines to decrease wildfire risk. In a statement, PG&E says “undergrounding powerlines in the highest fire-risk areas will make our hometowns and California safer, improve electric reliability, and save customers billions of dollars in avoided annual tree trimming and overhead line maintenance costs.”

“There are ways that we can make the system safe, that are faster and cheaper than burying the lines which is what they want to do,” TURN Executive Director Mark Toney said. “Insulating overhead power lines is much faster — much cheaper.”

Toney with turn says he hopes the CPUC stands up PG&E and put the increase at something more reasonable

What TURN is fighting for is a cap to rate increases of no more than the annual social security cost of living adjustment — because that’s what people on fixed incomes live on.

The California Public Utilities Commission will vote on the rate hike at their Nov. 16 meeting.