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PG&E tops in complaints statewide

The Associated Press
Saturday November 25, 2000

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. received 56 percent of the total number of consumer gas and electric complaints filed statewide between 1997 and 1999, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. 

PG&E received more than three times the number of customer complaints as its southern counterpart, San Diego Gas and Electric, during the same time period, a San Francisco Chronicle analysis found. 

PG&E got the bulk of complaints even though it only has 39 percent of gas customers and 46 percent of electric customers served by the state’s regulated utilities. 

Nearly three out of four customer complaints filed involved billing problems. 

PG&E spokesman Ron Low said the high percentage of complaints is attributed to tougher terrain and harsher weather in northern California, which leads to more downed power lines and outages. 

The utility’s service stretches north to the Oregon border and east to the Sierra Nevada. San Diego Gas and Electric serves a more compact urban area around the city. 

Many of the consumer complaints also are linked to collection of delinquent bills, Low said. PG&E has increased its efforts to collect on unpaid bills and it is now often requiring deposits from customers with bad credit. 

The utilities commission received more than 17,000 complaints for PG&E out of an analysis of more than 30,000 from 1997 to 1999, the Chronicle found.