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What Does PG&E Bankruptcy Filing Mean for Your Utility?

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When word got out that PG&E was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, few in the industry were surprised: Rumors had persisted for months.

Even so, the full impact has yet to be determined, including the trickle-down effect on other utilities.

So, what does the bankruptcy mean to you?

In the immediate future, probably not much, but you should considering taking the lessons learned from PG&E’s plight and getting ahead of the curve with your local media.

One possibility is writing an op-ed for your local daily newspaper. Give a summary of what happened with PG&E and then detail the implications for your utility and, by extension, your customers.

Provide the readers insight into how your utility works and the ramifications of various things. Most of your readers see transformers, utility poles and power lines and know they lead to them being able to turn on a light switch, but beyond that they’re, pun intended, in the dark.

Explain briefly how the process involves much more than turning on a switch and how things are interconnected. And discuss how costly it is to make significant changes.

The idea of “going green” causes positive knee-jerk reactions among much of the public, but the reality of accomplishing that usually costs a lot of time and money. Let readers know about the added costs associated with wind and solar power — and how their sometimes unreliability means having to keep less-green power sources available anyway.

The public also is enthusiastic about the concept of burying power lines. It sounds great in concept, but John Q. Citizen doesn’t consider the lengthy process for accomplishing that — not to mention the added costs.

Stress those added costs, giving real-life examples. Buried power lines or “going green” doesn’t sound so good if it makes the average monthly bill go from $127 to $194, for example.

Obviously, you don’t want to prey on PG&E’s misfortune when making your points and you should defend electric utilities in general as the good corporate citizens they invariably are.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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