April 25 (Reuters) - Power company PG&E Corp beat Wall Street estimates for first-quarter profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast on Thursday, helped by higher electricity rates and lower operating and wildfire-related costs.

Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to approve PG&E's infrastructure plan that would lead customer bills to rise by nearly 13%.

The Oakland, California-based company's operating expenses fell 17% to $4.59 billion in the three months of 2024 compared with the same quarter a year earlier, partly due to lower fuel costs. Lower costs related to the Wildfire Fund amortization expense also helped the earnings of the company.

In January, the CPUC also approved a $45 million settlement for the utility's part in the destructive 2021 Dixie wildfire, which in 2021 resulted in more than 963,000 acres (390,000 hectares) being burned across multiple counties.

PG&E is the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Company that serves 16 million Californians across a 70,000-square mile (181,300-square kilometer) service area in Northern and Central California.

At the same time customer payments rose and costs fell, PG&E eyed power demand growth tied to electric vehicles and data centers.

The company projects 1% to 3% power load growth per year in the near term and a roughly 70% load growth over the next two decades as California uses electrification to reach its climate-focused energy goals by 2045.

Grid operator the California Independent System Operator forecasts 120 gigawatts of clean energy to be added to the state in the next 20 years, nearly twice the current 67 gigawatt system.

"We're in a position to win on the clean energy transition," PG&E CEO Patricia Poppe said on a call announcing the company's quarterly results.

The company raised its 2024 GAAP earnings forecast range to $1.15 to $1.20 per share, up from the previous range of $1.10 to $1.14.

On an adjusted basis, PG&E reported a profit of 37 cents per share beating analysts' estimates of 35 cents per share, according to LSEG.

(Reporting by Roshia Sabu in Bengaluru and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Ravi Prakash Kumar and Marguerita Choy)