The San Francisco Chronicle
A consumer group asked the state Supreme Court yesterday to block a plan by state regulators to bring Pacific Gas and Electric Co. out of bankruptcy, saying it would saddle customers with illegally high rates.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights says the Public Utilities Commission proposal would violate state law by leaving current rates in place to help PG&E pay for the surge in power prices that forced it into bankruptcy a year ago. Arguing that the 1996 deregulation law protects customers from being charged for a utility’s past power costs, the foundation said the PUC plan would cost PG&E‘s 4.5 million customers as much as $6.6 billion.
The PUC‘s chief lawyer, Gary Cohen, said the commission’s plan is aimed at “sharing the pain among utility shareholders and ratepayers” and violates no laws. He also said the commission plans a public hearing shortly to consider the possible effect on rates.
CORRECTION-DATE: April 13, 2002
A headline in yesterday’s Bay Area Report misstated a consumer group’s actions in the PG&E bankruptcy case. The group is challenging the state regulators’ post-bankruptcy plan. (04/13/2002, P. A2)