PUC Urged To Slow Utility Shut-Offs

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It’s no surprise that, during a recession, people are having a tough time paying their gas and electric bills. But Mindy Spatt with The Utility Reform Network says utility companies should be doing more to help consumers.

She says companies like PG&E are too quick to pull the plug using new smart meters which are controlled remotely. 
“With smart meters there’s not that final opportunity for the consumer to talk with the utility worker and perhaps show them a receipt for a bill that’s been paid.”
But Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Nicole Liebelt says their disconnection notification process hasn’t changed with smart meters. And she says they already offer financial assistance.   
“We definitely are working to ensure customers don’t get behind on their bills before they get to a point of disconnection. But we have to have a customer call us and let us know that they are having a difficult time.”  
A ruling by the Public Utilities Commission isn’t expected until possibly early next year.