Managing Attorney-Consumer Protection
San Francisco, CA – Over 150 ratepayers packed the auditorium at the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday to protest billions of dollars in pending utility rate increases. Nearly two dozen community leaders and ratepayers testified at a Commission meeting to demand rate freezes until the end of the recession in California.
Speakers highlighted the fact that executives at Southern California Edison were receiving record compensation while passing on the cost of doing business on to ratepayers.
Orson Aguilar, Executive Director of the consumer protection group Greenlining Institute, asked the Commission, “Why should ratepayers suffer during a recession while a third of Edison employees make over a hundred thousand dollars a year? It’s a bailout for utilities.”
Business and community leaders from across California also warned the Commission on the devastating impact rate increases will have during the recession.
According to one community organizer, as many as 500,000 homes in California had their utilities shut off in 2007, and warned that it could get worse this winter.
“Fifteen California counties are experiencing double digit unemployment,” said Samuel Kang, an attorney with Greenlining. “Imperial County, alone, has a 28% unemployment rate. Never mind a recession. Many parts of California are facing a depression.”
Following their testimony, hundreds of ratepayers held a rally outside the Public Utilities Commission demanding a rate increase moratorium. The noise from the rally temporarily delayed the Commission meeting, forcing the California Highway Patrol officers and Commission security to move the crowd further away from the building.
At the rally, protestors said they wanted to deliver a Christmas message to the Commission, holding signs that read, “All we want for Christmas is electricity.”