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PG&E Making Power Zone Changes

Status Changing For Thousands Of Homes

SACRAMENTO, 12:12 p.m. PST March 19, 2001 -- Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says that it is rezoning its "Block 50" status in Northern California.

"Block 50" status protects areas near hospitals, police and fire stations from losing power.

The change means that thousands of residents that were immune from rotating blackouts earlier this year could be left in the dark the newt time power outages are necessary.

PG&E says that 810,000 homes will lose their immunity beginning this month. At the same time, 690,000 homes not previously protected will be added to "Block 50" status.

Customers can find out if their status has changed by checking their next PG&E bill.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 19, 2001


Friday March 16, 4:10 pm Eastern Time Press Release PG&E Completes Reassessment of Rotating Outage Program

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 16, 2001--Pacific Gas and Electric Company today announced that it has completed a thorough reassessment and update of its rotating outage block program, in preparation for potential electricity shortages this spring and summer. The purpose of this reassessment was to ensure the program continues to meet the goal of allowing the utility to obtain safe, efficient and balanced load reduction when ordered to do so by the California Independent System Operator, in accordance with California Public Utilities Commission regulations.

PG&E regularly updates the assignment of customers to rotating blocks or to the exempt blocks, to account for operational changes in the electrical system as well as changes in customer facilities.

Starting in September 2000, PG&E began reassessing customer eligibility for exemption from rotating block outages, under the existing criteria established by the CPUC in the early 1980's. This thorough reassessment reviewed the eligibility of approximately 22,000 customers that potentially qualify for consideration based on their classification or type of operation (e.g., certain hospitals, fire and police services, etc., without adequate backup generation).

A reassessment at this level of detail was undertaken because of the recent use of the rotating outage program, the likelihood that it will be implemented again in 2001, and the importance of assuring that customers are treated appropriately under the criteria established by the CPUC.

``We examined roughly 22,000 customer accounts that potentially meet the CPUC's ''essential customer`` criteria to help ensure that we have not missed any customer that is likely to qualify for an exemption from rotating outages,'' said Jeff Butler, vice president of operations and maintenance and construction for the utility. ``At the same time, we wanted to make sure that customers who are given exemptions still qualify under the CPUC rules.''

As a result of this review, PG&E instituted the following changes in its rotating outage program:

After the company's reassessment, it identified 360 circuits in block 50 that do not serve essential customers. Those circuits have been moved out of Block 50 and assigned to one of the 14 rotating outage blocks. Those 360 circuits include approximately 810,000 non- essential customers who had benefited from the previous Block 50 assignment, who are now assigned to one of the 14 outage blocks. The reassessment identified 370 circuits that had been previously assigned to a rotating outage block that were moved to Block 50. Those circuits include approximately 690,000 non-essential customers who are now assigned to Block 50 because they share a circuit with an essential customer. The net change as a result of this review is an increase in the total number of electric customers who are subject to rotating outages by approximately 120,000, for a total of 2.8 million customers (58 percent). Approximately 2 million customers (42 percent) are on an electrical circuit that includes at least one essential customer; under CPUC regulation, and are currently exempt from the rotating outage program.

Each PG&E customer is assigned to one of 2900 circuits. Including the changes resulting from this review, approximately 1,000 circuits contain essential customers and are exempt from rotating outages.

Customers are being notified to review their PG&E bill on a regular basis to determine which outage block they have been assigned. While PG&E makes every effort to ensure the information is accurate, due to daily and seasonal operational switching, the outage block may not be correct at all times. A printed message appears on the outside of bill envelopes in March and April, and a reminder will appear every time someone visits the utility's website, at

An Essential Customer is a customer who is exempted from interruption during the operation of the EEP because of their critical end uses. The following customer facilities are considered essential unless their facilities have standby generators that can sustain the customer's critical load during electrical emergencies:

1. Government and other agencies providing essential fire, police, and prison services.

2. Governmental agencies essential to the national defense.

3. Hospitals with 100 beds or more.

4. Communication utilities, as they relate to public health, welfare, and security, including telephone utilities.

5. Navigation, communication, traffic control, and landing and departure facilities for commercial air and sea operations.

6. Electric utility facilities and supporting fuel and fuel transportation services critical to continuity of electric power system operation.

7. Radio and television broadcasting stations used for broadcasting emergency messages, instructions, and other public information related to the electric curtailment emergency.

8. Water and sewage treatment utilities. These customers may request restoration of service during a particular rotating outage if electric service is required for emergency purposes, such as fire fighting.

For more conservation tips, please visit our Energy Crisis website at or contact PG&E's Smarter Energy Line at 1-800-933-9555


-- Martin Thompson (, March 19, 2001.

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