Hayward woman has power restored

January 1, 2009 10:38:48 PM PST
We've heard many stories of in danger of having their power shut off because they can't pay their bills. 7 On Your Side came to the rescue of a Hayward woman who had her power shut down for months.

Linda Garcia lived in darkness for nearly four months. PG&E had cut off her electricity; all because of a huge mistake.

"It was hard, very hard. I had to eat out only one meal a day, so I wouldn't go through my money. My insulin had to be held by my friend Hope Castro so my insulin wouldn't be ruined," said Garcia.

It started when Linda moved out of her apartment and into a homeless shelter two years ago. Her name never got removed from her old PG&E account. She finally moved into another apartment, and that's when the mistake caught up with her.

Linda got bills for a few hundred dollars from PG&E. It was for gas and electricity used in her old apartment during the past two years.

"I hadn't lived there, I've lived in the street for two years, so how could I live there and owe that gas and they said, 'Either you pay it, or we turn it off,'" said Garcia.

Linda called and wrote to PG&E, and pointed out the error, but she kept getting bills -- bills she couldn't pay. Then, one day in August the lights went out. Linda had no way to cook, no lights, no heat.

"Nobody knows how miserable it is until you've lived with it from August to December. Finally, a friend of mine at Ace said call Channel 7," said Garcia.

And she did. 7 On Your Side contacted PG&E and it looked into the situation. Within hours, she had power.

"I cried, I cried. I was so happy I had light. They just clicked them on, and ever since then I haven't turned them off," said Garcia.

She could even turn on her Christmas lights.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkisian says it's not clear why Linda's name was not removed from her old account.

"Unfortunately this situation was not handled as well as it could have been. Most cases, you don't experience these kinds of issues. Most people are able to work with our consumer affairs department and work things out," said Sarkisian.

"I'm happy for Channel 7," said Garcia. "It got me out of the cold and out of the dark."

The big lesson here is make sure if you move out of your house, that information gets passed on to PG&E and you are no longer on the account.

As for Linda, she says this was truly a winter holiday of lights.