The California Public Utilities Commission has slammed Southern California Edison Co. with a $30 million fine and orders to refund more than $81 million to customers.
The record fine was levied at the conclusion of a probe into Edison’s shady practices in winning maximum rewards for customer satisfaction from 1997 through 2003.
Those rewards were severely undercut after Edison received first whistle-blower letters describing how employees were gaming customer-satisfaction surveys to help the company and managers win bonuses and ratepayer-funded incentives.
To its credit, Edison, a subsidiary of Rosemead-based Edison International, did not dispute the finding that the reporting inaccuracies the utility discovered and reported to regulators represented a very serious breach of Edison’s responsibility.
Edison has argued that the penalties should be limited because it quickly and voluntarily reported the problems and offered to pay a $2.5-million fine and refund more than $49 million.
The commission may or may not have the right number here. And Edison’s service to our region has improved somewhat after a dismal performance a couple of years ago.
But without whistle blowers and oversight, these shady practices never would have been revealed to the public. Let’s make sure that Edison continues on the right path toward better service quality and doesn’t backslide into deception and blackouts.