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PG&E’s profit over service culture

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POSTED September 15, 2009 3:28 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,


I agree with Dennis Wyatt’s assessment of the SSJID takeover of PG&E locally.


In my opinion PG&E is a corrupt corporation. Their parent company started a holding company to transfer PG&E’s assets to, so PG&E could file bankruptcy to get out of low-cost contracts. Then the parent company retained PG&E’s officers and rewarded them a job well done with millions in bonuses. Then PG&E went to their puppet commission (the California Public Utilities Commission or PUC) and got them to OK a charge to ratepayers for their losses. PG&E promised to let in irrigation districts to the grid in exchange for deregulation. They got the deregulation but now they are reneging on their end of the bargain. Where is the PUC investigation?


How does a company that is guaranteed a profit of over 11% go bankrupt? PG&E corporate has whittled down the workforce so much that there is practically no customer service left. It was all done in the name of profits. Why? Because there is nobody to complain to and no competition, and they know it and use it. I personally can’t remember the last time PG&E was refused a rate hike from the PUC.


Here is my personal story with PG&E: I moved here from Fremont in 2004. I bought a 1/2 acre in Ripon with an old mobile home. I demolished the mobile home and built a new house. The original house had overhead service and I wanted the service to the new house to be underground. There is only one new construction service rep for the entire region, so she was quite buried in work. She quoted me a standard ballpark cost of $1200. I had to dig the 60 foot trench and install the conduit, and they would install the wire from the power pole. It took PG&E four months to “engineer” this “major project”. When it was finally approved the cost was $6000. When I asked why, I was told I needed a new transformer. Nobody could tell me why, and when I asked for their calculations they refused. Pay up or no power was the answer. When I called my rep, her voice mail said she was now on vacation for two weeks and to call another person for help. I called that person and her voice mail was full for the entire two weeks. I can’t really put into words the frustration.


Then, last October during the campaign, I received a call to my home to answer a survey regarding PG&E and SSJID. I said sure and was asked my opinion of SSJID. I gave them a favorable rating because of their past history as a competent business, although I have never been a customer of theirs. Then he went on about how Dave Kamper and Jeff Shields were trying to bully their way into taking over the local PG&E service with eminent domain. I asked how many times has PG&E used eminent domain? Why is that only a bad thing when someone else uses it? Then there was silence. It was apparent then that this was not a survey, but a ruse by PG&E to distort the facts to voters. I hung up on him.


Last winter was my last power outage. It lasted about 24 hours. When I called to get an approximate time of repair, I was told four hours. Four hours later I called back and was told (after a long wait) another four hours. Then again, and again. You know, I don’t mind a 24-hour service interruption if it is weather-related. Just be honest and tell me it will probably be 24 hours or more, so I can go rent a generator to operate my water pump so we can take a shower and run a temporary light. Is that too much to ask?


I now read that many PG&E customers have had major electric bills since the smart meters have been installed. The month after I got mine in June my bill almost doubled, with no more hot days than the previous month. When I inquired about getting the meter re-calibrated, I was told they are calibrated in the factory and are OK. They would not re-calibrate it. Now I can’t even afford to run my air conditioner when I actually need it.


I have no problem with the rank & file employees of PG&E. The low level office workers and the guys in the field are hard workers. The problem lies in upper management. They have created a profit over service culture, because the actual workers are spread too thin to offer good service.
I am a commercial construction superintendent by trade. There is an industry standard that the absolute first item on the schedule for your project is to contact PG&E because they do not care when your store opens or your schedule ends. They will do their work on your project when they get to it. Not a day sooner. Look no further than South Union Road in front of J.C. Penney’s in Manteca. It took months and months to get a few power poles moved out of the street. Again, it is not the guys in the trenches, it is management that knows we have nowhere else to go.


Now we do, and they are SSJID.


They cannot possibly be any worse than PG&E. When was the last time PG&E even offered to reduce your bill by any amount? I thought so!

Wayne Flora
Ripon
Sept. 13, 2009
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