PG&E offers customers debit cards for reduced use


It's an incentive plan that comes on the heels of that huge tragic gas line explosion in September in San Bruno. PG&E wants to give its customers in San Francisco and the peninsula $25, but there's a string attached.

"We'll look at a customer's bill over the three previous Decembers and we'll average that out and then we'll look and see if you saved any gas, we'll send you the $25 prepaid debit card," says PG&E spokesperson Joe Molica.

The reason for this Christmas gift is that PG&E wants to avoid increasing pressure on the pipeline that exploded in September.

Since then, the pressure on all three major lines that run through the peninsula has been reduced, which lowers the temperature in the pipes. Federal investigators have yet to come up with a cause for the explosion. One theory is that a sudden increased pressure in the pipeline triggered the blast.

The Utility Reform Group, or TURN, says it's all for the incentive plan, especially since the money comes from shareholders and not ratepayers. Their main concern is still the mystery surrounding the cause.

"What we're concerned about is the fact that we don't know why the gas line is not safe to operate at its regular pressure," says Mark Toney from TURN.

Most of the peninsula residents ABC7 talked with told us $25 wouldn't keep them from turning up the heat.

"If it's cold, I'm going to turn my heat on and I have gas heat," says peninsula resident Barbara Hammel.

"I would care less about the $25 believe me," says peninsula resident Kate Krause.

But almost all said they do not want PG&E to raise the pressure on the transmission lines, either.

"I think that would be mistake because they have to be inspected. They were put down in '48 or I think '49. They're quite old," says peninsula resident Bill Grossman.

PG&E says the plan will not affect its regular winter gas conservation rebate program which goes into effect in January.

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