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Camp Fire survivors struggle with high heat and expenses living in RVs

One Camp Fire survivor is paying at least $300 per month on electricity bills.

Posted: Aug 16, 2019 10:14 PM
Updated: Aug 16, 2019 10:40 PM

PARADISE, Calif. - The hot summer is making life difficult and expensive for Camp Fire survivors in RVs and mobile homes.

"Extremely miserable," said Vicki Taylor when asked to describe what life is like for her in her RV. 

"Sometimes I think I'm going to pass out," Taylor added, saying temperatures have been as high as 90 degrees inside her tiny living space, even with the air conditioning on. 

"The refrigerators in RVs do not work terribly well," she went on to explain. "I'd buy milk...and within three to four days it was curdled."

So to keep temperatures inside the RV tolerable, and to keep her food from spoiling, Taylor purchased two small AC units and an extra refrigerator. 

Before the Camp Fire, Taylor said her home was powered by solar during the summer months, which meant she paid next to nothing for power. But after moving into her RV, the cost of running the extra appliances to keep the space cool have added up.

"My jaw just about hit the floor when I saw that $400 PG&E bill," she said. 

Taylor showed Action News Now the paperwork. One recent PG&E bill came out to $330. Another, for two months of usage, came out to over $700.  

Our reporter Stephanie Lin reached out to PG&E to understand the charges. 

"At first glance, it looks like [the customer] is paying an exorbitant amount of money for their electricity bills. They are living in these hot RVs. What is your response to that?"

"We are always happy to help our customers find out which rate plan may work best for them," said Paul Moreno, PG&E spokesperson. "Give us a call, and if the current rate you are on doesn't work, you may be eligible for another rate."

Moreno went on to add that Taylor has two RVs set up on one account, and that energy consumption appeared to be double what one home would use year-round. 

"I wouldn’t say it is a higher bill in this case," Moreno said. "RVs... are not built to the same standards [of California building codes] as structures, or as energy efficient."

Following Action News Now's outreach, PG&E said they would reach out to Taylor regarding her account to see if anything could be done in terms of adjusting her rates. 

"We will reach out to her to look at her rates," Moreno said, "but based on her usage she is on the best rate possible at this point."

Taylor meanwhile, remained unconvinced PG&E could do much to help her. 

"For one thing, they burned my house down, then they took away the solar, then they force me to live in [an RV]."

But she is willing to take the temporary heat, and the hit to her pocketbook, to continue living in the town she loves.

If you are struggling with the heat in an RV, you may consider positioning your home so it does not receive direct sunlight. PG&E recommends parking a mobile home under shade or finding a shade source to lower the temperatures inside. 

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Aside from the haze and smoke, we've had beautiful weather in northern California today, and it will be just as nice tomorrow. A storm is coming our way, however, and we'll have very unsettled weather this weekend.
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