Settlement improves services for farm energy customers
» May 31, 2007 «
More InformationFull settlement (PDF, 55-pages)
As the result of a settlement involving the California Farm Bureau Federation, other consumer advocates and Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the utility will keep open public service counters at 75 local offices, and new services for agricultural customers will be added.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the settlement of a case that began in 2005, when PG&E proposed to close public service counters at all 84 of its local offices. The closures would have affected customers throughout the company's service territory, which stretches from Eureka in the north to Bakersfield in the south.
Stating that rural customers in particular value the in-person services offered at the local offices, the California Farm Bureau objected to the proposed closures. At a series of hearings in Northern and Central California last year, Farm Bureau members said they rely on the PG&E service counters to resolve service problems.
"Timely response to an energy-service issue can literally mean life or death for California crops and livestock," California Farm Bureau President Doug Mosebar said. "We're pleased that PG&E has agreed to leave most of its front counters open and to take new steps to insure that farm and ranch customers have problems resolved quickly."
As part of the settlement, PG&E will establish a call center for agricultural customers, staffed by specialists who will respond to questions via a toll-free telephone number. The utility will also dedicate two account representatives to make in-person visits to resolve problems on farms and ranches. The settlement allows PG&E to close nine public-service counters, each of which has low use or has an alternative location nearby.
Farm Bureau Associate Counsel Ron Liebert says the organization will help PG&E promote its new agricultural services.
"Reliable, affordable energy is vital in production of food, fiber and flowers. Our goal has been to assure that customers on farms and ranches and in rural areas receive full value for the energy costs they pay," Liebert said. "We believe the new telephone and in-person services will benefit agricultural energy users."
The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 92,000 members.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top