PUC blocks PG&E, SoCal Edison layoffs

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PUC Blocks PG&E, SoCal Edison Layoffs

From Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO--The California's Public Utilities Commission voted today to block planned layoffs at the state's two biggest utilities, saying the move would severely hurt service to their 24 million electric customers.

The commission ordered PG&E Corp's utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Edison International's unit Southern California Edison to rescind any layoffs they have already ordered.

It also barred them from any further layoffs of workers involved in customer services such as telephone call centers, meter reading, and the field crews that respond to power outages and hook up new customers.

The companies, both fighting to stave off bankruptcy, have announced plans to lay off about 3,000 workers in a bid to cut costs after running up a combined debt of $13 billion buying power in the volatile wholesale market.

California's flawed 1996 deregulation law prevents the investor-owned utilities from fully passing wholesale power costs on to their retail customers. Together, PG&E and SoCal Edison have nearly 32,000 employees.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), March 15, 2001


If my memory serves me correctly, a PG&E spokesman stated that the layoffs did not affect PG&E's financial situation. The public demanded "cost-cutting" efforts and the lay-offs were the easiest way to show the public they were hurting. In our local paper, several people wrote to the editor asking why PG&E wasn't laying off employees, and they did not believe PG&E was going broke. I haven't heard of any Stage 2 or 3 alerts lately, I guess all is well.

-- CAkidd (CAkidd_94520@yahoo.com), March 15, 2001.

EST Thursday

Utilities blast PUC decision

"Micro-management" and "irresponsible" are two of the criticisms being hurled at the California Public Utilities Commission today by the state's two largest utilities.

The criticism comes following the PUC's decision to deny Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison their request to lay off up to 3,000 employees to cut costs.

The PUC said such actions would harm the utilities' ability to serve the public.

"PG&E believes that the Public Utilities Commission should focus its attention on finding solutions to the energy crisis and not on micro- managing PG&E," says Scott Blakey, spokesman for the company.

He says PG&E has not decided whether it will challenge the ruling. A decision on that could be made as early as Friday, he says.

The "M" word is also in the vocabulary of Edison.

"This kind of undue micro-management -- preventing utilities from reasonable and temporary cost cutting -- only perpetuates a remarkable episode of regulatory failure in California," Edison says in a statement.

It says the decision "would serve only to exacerbate" Edison's current financial "crisis."


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 16, 2001.

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