PG&E Saturday service interruption angers small businesses in SF

After ABC7 News I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow got involved, PG&E reconsidered.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Businesses on and around San Francisco's Fillmore Street are furious after PG&E notified them power would be shut off this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PG&E says it needs to replace underground cables, but many in the commercial district are asking, "why on the busiest day of the week?"

After ABC7 News I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow got involved, PG&E reconsidered.

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Russian Hill Dog grooming runs on electricity.

From clippers to hair dryers, owner Leonard Montgomery and his staff can't perfect a look for these pups without power.

"Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Burnadoodles," said Montgomery.

"That means lots of hair and lots of grooming," he continued.

So when he opened a letter from PG&E saying there'd be a service interruption this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to replace underground cable he was dumbfounded.

"You should not probably close a business, you know, during their business hours after we just went through a big pandemic," said Montgomery.

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PG&E said the outage will affect 500 customers along Fillmore Street, in the immediate area near and around Pine Street and California Street.

Vas Kiniris is the Executive Director of the the Fillmore Merchant's Association.

"We totally understand we need maintenance work on the street, but not during peak store hours on a Saturday," said Kiniris.

"They should be more sensitive to the needs of small business, especially after what we've been through," he continued.

When Fillmore Bake Shop Owner Elena Basegio got the letter, she told her staff to take Saturday off. There was no way she could stay open without power.

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"What do we do with that? For us we open from 8 till 4, we start baking at 4 a.m. Even if we were able to bake everything, we can't sell it all in an hour, and as much as we can go offline with our payment, we need the refrigeration to keep the cakes cold," said Basegio.

Basegio like Montgomery, called PG&E repeatedly, pleading with the utility company to reconsider.

"There was no response at all. It just went nowhere until obviously the news got involved," said Basegio.

After the ABC7 News I-Team contacted PG&E, a spokesperson said they would reschedule the work, writing in a statement:

"PG&E is committed to providing safe and reliable service to our customers, this includes completing important upgrade work to electric facilities in San Francisco. We understand how disruptive planned outage work can be and appreciate our customers' input regarding scheduled maintenance to electric facilities on Fillmore Street on Saturday, June 26. We will complete this work at a later date during night hours to minimize the impact to homes and business in the area. We thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we work to upgrade electric facilities to continue providing safe and reliable service."

The alternative date has not been announced and as of Wednesday morning, PG&E hadn't updated Montgomery or Basegio.

"I haven't heard anything, there was no email, there was no phone call," said Basegio.

PG&E's spokesperson tells the I-Team they expect to complete customer notifications as soon as possible via phone call.

Meantime business owners are holding their breath.

"So I just will keep my fingers crossed and hope I can continue working Saturday," said Montgomery.

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