Breaking Tradition, Inertia Reaps Reputation Rewards for PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. had three strikes against it in 2001: Deregulation of utilities had forced rates to skyrocket, and its corporate reputation had suffered a blow as a result; the company was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; and the statewide energy crisis certainly wasn't helping matters. So when the state mandated that all investor-owned utilities significantly and rapidly increase enrollment in a discount energy program for low-income residents, PG&E had serious work to be done. The utility's external affairs department launched a crusade to increase enrollment in CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) that resulted in a whopping 100 percent increase in participation. Getting there meant admitting the department's own weaknesses, changing longstanding internal practices company-wide and developing a sweeping creative campaign that would reach low-income users from every walk of life.

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