The blackout factor - Page 4

PG&E's poor reliability record costs businesses millions

But Mitra couldn't claim compensation for the time, energy, and frustration the claims process cost her over its three-month duration.

Birbeck told us PG&E never informed her that there was a formal claims process. "No one ever mentioned a claim to me — that has never been offered at all," she said. That's a common complaint — although the forms are on PG&E's Web site, the utility doesn't widely promote or advertise that fact.

PG&E also asks business owners to provide a slew of paperwork ranging from tax records and bank statements to payroll records, revenue and expense statements, and sales receipts.

"We had to give them a lot of data," Mitra said. Because Dosa's records are mostly digital and automated, supplying them to PG&E was the least of her problems. But, she conceded, "if you don't run your business in a way that keeps all that data, it would be a pain in the ass."

Of course, the claims process does nothing to address issues of reliability. Neither does it guarantee that Mitra's refrigerators won't fail without notice, leaving her without food to serve.

It is, however, another reminder that San Francisco is not being well-served by its private utility monopoly.

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