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November 06, 1998

The state Public Utilities Commission fined San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. $1.68 million for allowing an unregulated affiliate company, PG&E Energy Services, to misuse the utility's name and logo in soliciting business. Under new rules designed to prevent unregulated energy affiliates of investor-owned utilities from gaining an unfair advantage over competitors, advertisements must carry a disclaimer explaining that the service provider is not the same company as the utility and consumers need not buy the affiliate's products to continue receiving services. But the disclaimer was nearly illegible in some PG&E Energy Services print ads that ran in March, the PUC found. A PG&E spokesman said the company withdrew the ads as soon as the problem was recognized and will request reconsideration of the penalty.

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