A cheap tease – months of complementary cable TV by one utility. Savvy consumers easily sober up when they see the sticker shock in the next bill.
That is not the same with PG&E, applying for a rate adjustment with the California Public Utilities Commission for 2014-16. Most ratepayers will continue to pay less than the national average but in return get a safer, more reliable, greener and efficient service.
Unlike other notable utilities based in El Segundo, Dallas and Philadelphia, PG&E is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The corporation is more than faceless meters and mailed bills. PG&E is a neighbor of thousands of current and former employees, small business contractors and mom and pop shareholders. It is very likely residents know someone tied to PG&E.
Many, who are Asian Pacific American (APA) PG&E employees, contribute to the region’s vibrant community and civic life. Long before LinkedIn, AsianWeek covered former PG&E employee Joyce Chan who helped organize and lead a network of thousands of corporate and government APA employees. Her brainchild, the Corporate Asian American Employee Network, has mentored and inspired successful APA leadership at companies like AT&T, Kaiser and corporations throughout America.
And earlier this year, when the utility promoted Travis Kiyota to Vice President, more than 250 APA leaders came to a community dinner to recognize PG&E’s commitment to diversity among its officers, and to praise Kiyota’s own work ethic and record of contributions to the community.
PG&E’s planned capital improvements and maintenance projects will support some 39,000 jobs according to the Economic Development Research Group. Investments will also stimulate $9 billion in sales annually through programs like energy saving rebates use to purchase and install new washers, dryers and refrigerators for homes.
This year, the publicly-traded company has taken meticulous steps to educate the APA community about safety. At a recent landlord-tenant seminar in Fort Mason, PG&E technicians educated realtors and landlords serving the Chinese American market about properly shutting down natural gas valves and calling 811 before excavating streets or homes.
And last month, PG&E held a candid media roundtable with APA media, including a large Filipino American contingent. PG&E executives and managers answered tough questions from reporters about safety issues and lifeline assistance for senior and low-income households. At the same time, they were receptive to ideas about how they could improve their service, especially in safety inspections and promoting the use of 811.
Bay Area residents know PG&E employees, contractors and shareholders by face. They have certainly shared the same burdens in APA communities for the past four years. But they are as much our family and friends, people we turn to when we need help at PG&E. Given the relatively small sacrifice, a rate adjustment for better, safer and cleaner service is an enormous return for a better community.