As parties argue about a multi-billion dollar rate hike proposed by Southern California Edison, the Division of Ratepayer Advocates is seeking deep cuts in the utility\u2019s revenue request that Edison warns could result in large-scale layoffs, with a negative impact on the state\u2019s economy. DRA staff counsel Laura Tudisco asked the California Public Utilities Commission to cut Edison\u2019s proposed hike from what the Division reckons would total $4.2 billion over the next three years to $406 million. Citing the state\u2019s ongoing unemployment crisis and growing poverty, Tudisco called the utility\u2019s revenue request \u201cbloated\u201d and urged \u201ccost containment.\u201d She noted that one-third of the utility\u2019s customers are on low-income rate assistance programs and can\u2019t afford to pay what the utility is seeking. Edison attorney Frank McNulty responded the Division\u2019s proposed cuts would require the utility to lay off 1,794 workers, reducing its workforce from 18,081 to 16,287 positions. Edison also would forego hiring another 1,500 new employees in the coming year. McNulty raised the prospect the cuts also would threaten 10,000 jobs outside the company created by the utility\u2019s capital spending program. The staff reductions would \u201cleave the company unable to inspect and maintain the electric system and manage growing numbers of unplanned outages,\u201d he argued. The attorneys squared off late last month in the Edison general rate case proceeding in briefs filed with the commission. Not only did the attorneys disagree on what size rate hike regulators should grant, they also disagreed on what size rate hike the company actually was requesting. Edison maintained it was seeking a $794 million revenue increase in 2012, or 6.93 percent, with further increases of $155 million in 2013 and $515 million in 2014. The utility maintains those increases would boost its revenue from $6.2 billion next year to $7.3 billion in 2014. However, the Division claims the company is seeking a $4.2 billion rate hike over three years, amounting to an 18.9 percent boost in residential rates. The Division warns the rate hike ultimately could be even bigger if the commission approves the revenue requirements Edison is requesting. That\u2019s because implicit in Edison\u2019s revenue request, according to Tudisco, are inflated power sales projections that are unlikely to pan out. A shortfall in sales would force Edison to turn to its existing customers to meet revenue requirements, meaning higher rates. Others concur with the Division\u2019s assessment. Edison\u2019s \u201crevenue requirement request,\u201d according to Aglet Consumer Alliance director James Weil, \u201cgreatly exceeds estimated sales growth, estimated customer growth or ordinary inflation.\u201d To cut back Edison\u2019s rate request, consumer advocates want the commission to disallow requests for revenue to fund capital improvements that were funded in the last Edison general rate case but have yet to be carried out. Among other reductions, they want cuts in executive compensation, retirement, and other employee benefits like health care. Tudisco also asked the commission to let ratepayers enjoy all of the projected $150 million in savings under the company\u2019s plan to layoff 500 employees and 100 contractors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Edison wants to split the savings 50-50 between shareholders and ratepayers. The arguments about Edison\u2019s rate hike come as the commission is in the midst of numerous hearings this month on rate hikes Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric also have proposed.