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PG&E Will Be Fined for Use of Its Name, Logo

April 10, 1998| From Associated Press

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will be fined for letting an affiliate use its name and logo in ads without clearly telling readers the company wasn't the familiar San Francisco-based utility, the state Public Utilities Commission said Thursday.

The commission's rules for electric companies during the transition to a free-market industry allow a regulated utility such as PG&E to share its name and insignia with unregulated affiliates of the same parent company that provide electricity to customers.

But the rules also require disclaimers that clearly state the affiliate is separate from the utility and is unregulated.

The PUC said PG&E Energy Services, an unregulated energy provider and affiliate of the utility, broke the rules by writing illegible disclaimers--in small type, appearing vertically on the side of an ad, and in colors that did not stand out from the rest of the ad--in several newspaper ads.

Violations are punishable by fines of $500 to $20,000 for each offense. Each violation is counted as a separate offense for each day it continues, but it is not clear how many offenses took place in this case, the commission said.

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