SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Customers spoke, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) listened. The utility yesterday unveiled a new energy statement in Chinese at a community fair in the San Francisco’s Chinatown. Starting in September, the utility’s Chinese-speaking customers can request to receive an all new energy statement in their own language, featuring a larger type size, at-a-glance billing numbers, and new information that will help them better understand and manage their energy usage.
The Chinese language option is part of the utility’s complete redesign of its monthly energy statement. Basic information such as the total amount due, due date, account number, and PG&E’s contact information is easier than ever to find. Graphs and charts show daily energy usage and trends in monthly bill totals, with further details on subsequent pages. The new monthly statement incorporates detailed suggestions provided by about 1,200 customers through focus groups and surveys.
“We are delighted to launch our new energy statement in Chinese. It is a credit to our customers’ thoughtful advice on how to make their energy statements work for them,” said Fong Wan, senior vice president of Energy Procurement and the highest ranking Chinese-American officer at PG&E. “They told us what they need to know each month and suggested how we could better tell that story. The result is much more than a bill. It’s a powerful tool for helping customers take charge of their energy use and hopefully save money in the process.”
“According to U.S. Census data, one in five Californians speaks English less than well, but this shouldn’t prevent them from understanding their energy bill,” said Sam Kang, General Counsel of the Greenlining Institute. “PG&E should be commended for becoming the first utility company in California to offer bills in Chinese and Spanish. This will help hundreds of thousands of PG&E customers better understand their bills and how they use energy.”
Beginning this month, full-service residential electric or gas customers can request their statements in Chinese by visiting pge.com/chinesebill or contacting PG&E’s Chinese service line at 1-800-893-9555. Statements are also available in Spanish, in Braille and large print.
PG&E has served and engaged with California’s Chinese-American communities for more than 100 years. They in turn have played a major role in determining how the company delivers services to its customers. PG&E recognized the importance of in-language services a century ago when it opened its first payment office in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1905.
In addition, PG&E’s customer service hotline provides support in 190 languages through over-the-phone interpretation services. PG&E also launched a Chinese web site (pge.com/chinese) to improve access for non-English speaking customers to information on energy saving programs, environmental stewardship, financial assistance, and much more.
PG&E also launched a weekly Twitter post in Chinese to help customers learn how to sign up for different energy efficiency programs, save energy and lower their energy bills. Currently, the utility posts a Facebook message in Spanish every Monday.
These efforts reflect PG&E’s longstanding commitment to reach its diverse customers in the communities where they work and live. Through advertising in Chinese language media, appearing at regional cultural events and working with local groups, the utility shares information on safety, cost saving and energy efficiency. The direct outreach not only helps critical material reach members of the community, but also provides economic benefits to a range of Chinese owned businesses and organizations.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com/chinese.