January 24, 2001
Contact: PG&E News Department (415) 973-5930
EDITORS: Please do not use "Pacific Gas and Electric" or "PG&E" when referring to PG&E Corporation or its National Energy Group. The PG&E National Energy Group is not the same company as Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the utility, and is not regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company do not have to buy products or services from the National Energy Group in order to continue to receive quality regulated services from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

PG&E Welcomes Federal Government's Leadership On Natural Gas And Electricity Supply Issues

SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific Gas and Electric Company issued the following statement today in response to U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's extension of the orders directing electricity and gas suppliers to continue selling and delivering to California:

"Secretary Abraham's decision to extend the federal orders directing natural gas and electricity suppliers to keep energy flowing to homes and businesses in Northern and Central California is a welcome and timely response to a situation that has the potential to worsen the energy crisis the state already is experiencing. Secretary Abraham and his staff had an extremely short amount of time to address this aspect of California's energy crisis, and their ability and willingness to act quickly and decisively is much appreciated. We look forward to working with the new Administration to develop solutions to the state's continuing gas and electricity supply problems. We also appreciate the ongoing efforts of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressmen Jerry Lewis and Sam Farr, and the entire California Congressional delegation in bringing these critical issues to the attention of the new Administration.

"Conservation is going to be more important now than ever," said Jeff Butler, Pacific Gas and Electric Company's vice president of operations, maintenance and construction. "We urge all of our customers to do whatever they can to conserve energy during our current energy crisis over the next several days. If we all do a little, it may be enough to help the state avoid rotating outages."

"The two week duration of the orders will allow California's lawmakers, regulators and energy industry officials much-needed additional time to develop long-term solutions to the myriad energy problems facing the state. However, if the orders expire in two weeks and there has been no resolution by policy makers, the state will again face the possibility of severe gas and electricity shortages.

Under the state's Electric Emergency Plan, the CAISO calls upon the program during Stage 2 Emergencies to reduce the chance for rotating block outages. Since the program has been virtually used up, the CAISO will no longer be able to call on Pacific Gas and Electric Company's interruptible customers to reduce their usage.

"In the past week, more than 1 million customers in Northern California experienced power outages because of the electricity shortage, and the potential for gas shortages has grown more likely every day. The threat of natural gas and electricity shortages in the middle of winter -- when residents depend on a steady supply to heat and light their homes -- is especially frightening because of the potential impact on elderly and people with health problems."