No Spoils for the Victor

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Recently, Sandy S., a senior who lives on a fixed income, contacted TURN for information on filing a claim against PG&E after a power outage left her with a refrigerator full of spoiled food. 

By Miguel Torres

It’s understandable that you might lose power due to natural causes, accidents or unseen events.  Just the same, losing power for a full day can be devastating! Sandy S., a senior who lives on a fixed income, contacted TURN for information on filing a claim against PG&E after a power outage left her with a refrigerator full of spoiled food.  She had explained the problem to PG&E: “We are seniors on a fixed income without an unlimited pot of money.”

On June 6, at 8:30 am, her household lost power in their home: no appliances, no lights and no refrigerator.   The power wasn’t restored until 11 that night. According to a PG&E representative, “A circuit breaker in the substation opened due to a detected line fault on the Almaden 1111 circuit. The fault was what caused for the transformer to fail.”

Because of the power outage the groceries they had purchased the day before spoiled. When Sandy contacted PG&E regarding reimbursement for the spoilage of the recently bought groceries, they denied any responsibility, and did not want to reimburse her for the food loss.

TURN advised her to file a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and to include the same documentation she provided to PG&E when she made the claim.

This consumer had kept excellent records and did her homework!  She had copies of the receipts from the food bought the day prior to the outage and she had a copy of the PG&E Claim Process Form.  She also researched PG&E’s rules and tariffs, What Do You Need to Provide, Food Spoilage section to ensure that her claim was valid.

“While I understand that at times PG&E will not be able to deliver power due to an unforeseen circumstance, I believe that PG&E has a responsibility to reimburse expenses that their customers experience when the electrical power fails for an excessively long period of time,” Sandy said.

A week after filing a complaint with the CPUC, she received a call from a PG&E representative. The representative apologized for the inconvenience this consumer experienced and told her she will be fully refunded.

Consumer Tip: Because Sandy was well informed and persistent in demanding a refund, she won. She kept copies of the required documents to help her in her battle.

“Electricity is essential to keep our households running smooth, safe, and efficient. When service is interrupted, a reasonable and timely repair is expected. PG&E failed in delivering power and keeping us informed, ” Sand said.

To file an Outage Claim with PG&E, go to the PG&E website. and click on: Make a Claim. You have the option of either making a claim online or downloading the form.

Consumer Tip:  If you download the form and choose to mail it in, attach important documents. If you have questions contact PG&E at (415) 973-4548.

Edison and SDG&E also have claims forms available on their websites.  Call Edison at

1-800-655-4555 and SDG&E at 1-800-411-7343.

TURN Thanks summer intern Miguel Torres for his efforts on behalf of the Ms. Sandoval and the many other consumers he assisted. 

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