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.
To Secretary Richardson's Order For Gas Suppliers To Sell To The
SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific
Gas and Electric Company issued the following statement in response
to President Clinton's finding of a natural gas emergency in Northern
and Central California, and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary
Bill Richardson's related order that requires out-of-state gas suppliers
to continue selling natural gas to the utility, both of which were
"We appreciate President
Clinton's and Secretary Richardson's leadership in ordering the
natural gas suppliers to continue selling and delivering gas into
California. The gas supply situation has brought Northern and Central
California to the brink of a serious crisis at a time when the state
is also experiencing power outages because of an electricity shortage.
We are rapidly running out of gas stored in our underground storage
facilities because of cuts in flowing supplies.
"We are concerned, however,
that the extremely short duration of the federal order - which extends
only through Tuesday, January 23 - means that it probably will have
only limited practical effect in relieving the shortage of gas supplies.
We hope that the order will be extended, at least through February,
so that it can be used to get enough baseload gas lined up to meet
our expected February gas demands. Without that extension, we are
concerned that millions of Californians could be in jeopardy of
gas shortages in early-to-mid February - a time when natural gas
is desperately needed to heat homes and businesses.
"If gas service to residential
and business consumers is threatened, then existing rules require
Pacific Gas and Electric Company to meet their natural gas needs
by reducing deliveries to other end-use customers, including gas-fired
electric power plants, hospitals, and military bases. Therefore,
it is crucial to note that serious gas shortages are still a possibility
if the Secretary's order expires next week and is not extended.
"Because of Pacific Gas
and Electric Company's financial crisis, nearly all of its natural
gas suppliers have said they will not continue to sell gas to the
utility without special payment arrangements, and several have already
stopped deliveries. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has been unable
to pay for gas in advance -- as suppliers have requested -- because
California's electricity crisis has pushed the utility to the brink
of financial collapse, exhausting available cash and credit. Unlike
the situation on the electric side, the utility's customers pay
the market price for the gas they use, so Pacific Gas and Electric
Company collects sufficient gas revenues to pay the gas suppliers."