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Appeal Planned of Delay in Reviewing GTE Rates

August 14, 1985|BRUCE KEPPEL | Times Staff Writer

A San Francisco-based consumer organization said Tuesday that it will appeal a Public Utilities Commission ruling last week postponing for a year, until 1988, the next scheduled review of General Telephone of California's rates.

The group, Toward Utility Rate Normalization (TURN), said the delay could benefit the Santa Monica-based company at the expense of its customers by shielding it from regulatory scrutiny for four years. Its most recent rate increase was in 1984.

General Telephone could benefit, TURN executive director Sylvia Siegel said, because interest rates are substantially lower than a year ago, reducing the company's cost of financing debt; because inflation remains low, and because computerized switching equipment now being installed will probably improve productivity. These circumstances would all reduce General Telephone's costs, she contended.

The company said it agreed to the delay because of the PUC's "very crowded regulatory schedule."

The commission ruling, a company spokesman said, will allow the company to file for a cost-of-living increase this year and next, although this would open its books to PUC scrutiny.

Pacific Bell is expected to file a rate request next year, with hearings in 1987. That is also the year that General Telephone's case was to have been filed.

Having two big rate cases to consider would stretch the regulatory staff too thin, PUC spokesman Carole Kretzer said. "It (the General Telephone ruling) was a reluctant decision," she said.

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