Mayor Swearengin: PG&E Rate Reduction Proposal Would Provide Economic Boost

FRESNO – Mayor Ashley Swearengin today said a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) proposal to offer a targeted rate reduction to promote economic development would provide an economic boost to Fresno and surrounding communities.

PG&E today asked state regulators for the right to offer a competitive electric rate to attract employers to California and convince other employers in the state to maintain or expand their operations rather than leave.

“By expanding our local businesses and attracting employers back to hard-hit communities in California, PG&E’s program will help jump-start an economic recovery that generates the jobs and growth we need for healthier communities,” said Mayor Swearengin, who approached PG&E several months ago to consider an economic development rate.

“This program provides hope not only to Fresno, but to communities throughout Northern and Southern California that need help revitalizing their economic base. This will be good for all of California.”

Lee Ann Eager, president and CEO of Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, added, "Fresno EDC and our community partners have worked hard to make sure that we use every existing tool in the toolbox to attract new businesses to Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley and work to expand those that have taken root in this region.

"However, we simply have not had an effective tool that would make this region more competitive to others across the country in regard to power costs. A 35% reduced headline rate for electricity is a powerful incentive - one we believe will significantly even the playing field and create jobs in one of the hardest hit economies in the nation."

The proposed economic development rate targets companies – with power loads of at least 200 kilowatts – that have a choice of where to locate operations and hire employees. The rate would provide a 12 percent rate reduction for five years for those who avow that it is needed to enable them to site new operations, expand existing facilities, or stay in California.

To address the more acute challenges faced by counties in PG&E’s service area with unemployment rates at least 25 percent higher than the state average, such as Fresno County, the utility proposes a more significant rate reduction of 35 percent for five years.

The new economic development rate is designed to meet today’s challenges and would replace an existing program that PG&E began offering in 2005, PG&E officials said. The current program’s rate reduction has declined over time and it is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2012.

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