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PG&E asks for extension to deal with MID customers' bills

After a boisterous meeting in late May regarding fees Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is asking Merced Irrigation District customers to pay, PG&E has requested a 60-day extension to work out the issue.

MID customers who don’t use PG&E services were outraged when the utilities company informed them they would have to pay an about $9 a month fee for three years — starting this month.

PG&E said the money was to cover costs accrued from the 2001 energy crisis, deregulation of California’s power industry and the company’s subsequent financial woes. The California Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates power companies, told the company it was time to collect.

But about 100 MID customers filling the Merced Community Senior Center on May 20 said that wasn’t their problem. Sen. Jeff Denham and Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani agreed. They even “hinted” at the meeting that these customers shouldn’t pay this bill.

Brian Cherry, vice president of regulatory relations for PG&E, requested in a letter dated May 27 that the PUC allow PG&E a 60-day extension of the deadline for sending the bills to New Municipal Departing Load customers.

These are customers who have never received services by PG&E, but are customers in a new housing development that in 2001 was part of PG&E territory.

MID general manager Garith Krause was excited to receive a copy of this letter.

“Maybe our public efforts paid off,” he said. “What I like about the letter is it shows that PG&E noticed. I can’t attribute it to our town hall meeting, but it lends some evidence that our customers coming together did make a difference.”