Gilroy – City residents will eventually have more options to pay their electricity and gas bills in person at local business and grocery stores, as part of a PG&E effort to improve customer service.
Jeff Smith, a PG&E spokesperson, said the company is closing down 84 regional payment locations and replacing them with a larger number of neighborhood payment centers.
"The advantage is that they'll be located in retail businesses that our customers go to anyway, so they'll be able to do various tasks at one time," Smith explained. He said the change comes in response to focus groups and surveys of customers, who have asked for greater ease in paying their monthly utility bills. The company is also working to establish Internet billpay for customers.
City residents already have access to two neighborhood payment centers: Checks Financial, 280 East 10th St., and Money Market Check Cashing, 281 First St.
Smith said PG&E expects "that the list will grow" in Gilroy, although he could not say how many new payment centers residents can expect.
Currently, the closest regional payment center is located in Hollister. The closure of that store and 83 others will save PG&E about $20 million per year. The company plans to use the money to reduce rates or improve its utility infrastructure, which serves central and northern California from Bakersfield to Eureka.
PG&E must gain approval from the California Public Utility Commission before it moves forward with the closures. The company will include the plan in its annual rate report to the commission, which will likely be filed in early December, according to company spokesperson Jon Tremayne. If approved, he said the regional offices would not close until 2007.
Serdar Tumgoren covers City Hall for The Dispatch. Reach him at 847-7109 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Luke Roney contributed to this story.