San Diego

Power Disconnected for Nearly 9,000 SDG&E Customers in 2016: Report

San Diego Gas & Electric shut off power to almost 9,000 customers during a three-month period in 2016, according to documents supplied by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Those customers did not pay their bills and documents obtained by NBC 7 reveal that it's a growing problem, state-wide.

Disconnects at SDG&E, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) have been trending up since 2012, according to CPUC documents. Service disruptions for non-payment are less of a problem for customers of Southern California Gas.

The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition says the disconnects are a sign of a fragile economy, for the poor and middle class.

President Donald Trump's 2018 budget also deleted a program that helps the poorest Americans pay their energy bills.

Congress could restore the "Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program," but has not done so yet.

SDG&E confirmed that 40,067 customers had their service disconnected last year due to non-payment. The company said that is less than three percent of its 1.3 million residential customers. SDG&E also confirmed that its disconnect rate has increased by .54 percent since 2014, but noted that its customer base has grown by approximately four percent in that time period.

The company noted that 89 percent of disconnected customers eventually had their service restored.

SDG&E told NBC 7 that it, "work(s) with customers one-on-one and at length" to avoid shut-offs for non-payment, and "…will only disconnect service after all avenues of resolution have been exhausted."

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