PG&E

(PCG) - Get Report

, California's largest utility and parent of Pacific Gas & Electric, is trying to end a four-year-old retail rate freeze the utility said has cost it $2.2 billion this summer,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

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Utility prices in California have been much in the news lately because they have climbed so high -- at least in southern California. In San Francisco and other parts of northern California, an imposed freeze by the California legislature set in 1996 has shielded customers from those high levels this summer.

The rate freeze allowed investor-owned utilities, including PG&E, to set their rates at what seemed at the time to be high levels so the companies could pay down debt to regulators. Now, the company is saying it wants to see the freeze ended, the

Journal

wrote.

The article said that since the rate cap was imposed wholesale energy prices have gone higher than what PG&E was charging customers, and they are continuing to creep up. The article gave the example that the utility is paying for power at an average of $200 a megawatt hour, which is close to four times the amount that the company can bill its customers.

PG&E was lately off 50 cents, or 1.7%, to $28.88.