Bail Me Out, Too!

One ratepayers plea for government assistance

STATE SENATOR BILL MORROW'S SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO OFFICE

Good afternoon, Senator Morrow's office.

Oh, hi. My name's Todd, and I live in San Clemente.

Hi, how can I help you?

Yeah, I wanted to talk to someone about my electric bill.

Okay, you'll have to talk to me because I'm the only one here.

Oh, okay. I was reading the paper today, and it said that the state was going to bail out the electric companies . . .

Uh-huh . . .

And I want to know how I can get some of that money.

You want . . . ?

I wanted to know how I get my name on that bailout list. Do I tell you, or do I call the electric companies . . . ?

Yeah, I don't know how you get put on the list.

Is it first-come, first-served?

I really don't know.

Oh, because I could just barely pay my electric bill this month. We got some of these movable reindeer for Christmas . . .

Uh-huh. We have someone in Sacramento looking into that. You can call back on Monday, and we might have some answers for you.

Oh. Okay, well, thanks.

Okay.

Do you know how many people are going to be on the list?

I don't.

'Cause I'd hate to wait till Monday and then find out I got beat out for that money.

I understand. Like I said, we have someone in Sacramento looking into this.

MORROW'S SACRAMENTO OFFICE

Senator Bill Morrow's office.

Hi, my name's Todd, and I live in San Clemente.

Hi.

Hi. I wanted to talk to someone there about my electric bill.

Okay, what do you need to know?

Well, I was reading in the paper there's going to be a bailout for the electric companies —like a lot of money—and I wanted to know how I can get some of that?

Uh . . .

Like, is there a list, or is there someone I'm supposed to talk to?

You know, I don't know. I don't think anyone does right now. Can I call you back with that information?

No, my phone got turned off.

I understand. If you have an e-mail address, I can e-mail you the information.

I don't have a computer.

Oh, that's a shame.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN PATRICIA BATES' LAGUNA NIGUEL OFFICE

Actually, there have been different things proposed—we don't know anything specific yet.

Yeah, I just want to make sure I get in before everybody else gets the money.

I understand.

Yeah, because we just paid last month's electric bill, and it was brutal. We got these movable reindeers this year? And they just jacked up our bill.

Oh, I know. My personal bill was higher in December than it was in November, and my November bill was higher than the month before.

Did you have some of those .movable reindeer?

No; in fact, I didn't have any Christmas lights up at all.

Yeah, 'cause those reindeer, I think, take a lot of electricity. And now I can barely pay my electric bill, so that's why I want to be bailed out.

I understand. It's quite a problem.

I got a DVD for Christmas, and now I don't even know if I can use it. Do you have one of those DVDs?

No, but it sounds pretty cool.

Yeah, they're pretty cool. So are you going to call me, or how am I going to keep up with this? Is this something you think will be in the news?

Yes, the newspapers have been .following it pretty closely. It's a pretty major problem.

SUPERVISOR JIM SILVA'S OFFICE

I have no idea. You'll have to call .the state.

Who's that?

[Long sigh] We have nothing to do with any of that.

Well, who should I call?

Here's the number for the Public Utilities Commission.

Who's that?

[Long pause] That's who you want to talk to.

PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

Do you have a complaint?

No, I just wanted to get some information about how I can get on the bailout list?

The what?

The bailout list.

[. . .]

I was reading in the paper that they were going to be bailing out the electric companies because they can't pay their electric bills. And I can't pay mine. So I wanted to see if I could get some of that because we had these movable reindeers this year, and I could barely pay . . .

Please hold.

[Short pause]

Hello, may I help you?

Yeah, I was talking to someone else about the bailout I was reading about.

Uh-huh.

And I was trying to find out how I get my name on the list.

What list?

The bailout list.

[. . .]

I had a lot of trouble paying my electric bill last month because we had these movable reindeer. So I wanted to see if I could get some of that bailout money.

Let me be sure what you're saying.

Okay.

You're saying you want some of the bailout for yourself to pay your electric bill?

Right.

Okay, that's not what it's for.

But in the paper, they said the bailout would affect Edison customers, and I'm an Edison customer.

Yeah, it's going to affect Edison customers because you, the ratepayers, are going to help out Edison.

[. . .]

The bailout comes out of your pocket and goes to Edison.

What are you talking about? I already give 'em all this money now! I got to give 'em more?

[Chuckling] Right, the average will be about $5 a month.

For what?

[Chuckling] Well, because they say they need it.

ButI need it.

I know, but you're going to have to give it to them, and if after 90 days, we find the rate increase was too much, you'll get the extra money you were charged sent back to you.

What are the chances of that?

[Chuckling]

Man, I can't believe this. I gotta pay them?

Yep.

Well, what about me? What about if I can't pay my bill?

Well, there are programs for people who can't pay, but you have to qualify. Do you make less than $18,000 a year?

No.

No, I didn't think you did, not with the movable reindeer.

So how can I get someone to give me some money like Edison?

[Chuckling] It's called a loan. They give 'em at the bank.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON

Southern California Edison, how may I help you?

Yeah, I was told that you're getting a bunch of money to help you pay your bill, and I was wondering who I talk to to get the same deal.

Well, we're having our customers e-mail or contact Governor Davis. Every day, this is changing. I think the rate increase right now is 9 percent.

So, if I e-mail the governor's office, someone there will help me pay my electric bill?

Oh, this is for you. Okay, I'm sorry. I thought you were concerned about what Edison is going through right now. We do have some home energy agencies that can help out customers, if funds are available. . . .

Is that who you guys went to?

[Laughing] No.

Well, I wanted to go to who you guys are going to. It seems like a better deal.

[Laughing] I bet it does.

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