While the consumer group The Utility Reform Network detailed its protest of Pacific Gas & Electric's general rate case, PG&E Corp.'s chief executive officer said the consumer organization lost its bargaining stance during negotiations of its general rate case at the California Public Utilities Commission. PG&E executive Peter Darbee said the perception was created when TURN came to the negotiating table proposing to lower PG&E's new revenues rather than moderating what the utility proposes as a revenue increase. "When somebody approaches the table in that respect, it loses credibility," Darbee said. "As a consumer organization, I think we'd lose credibility if we didn't ask for lower rates," Mindy Spatt, TURN spokesperson, responded. Darbee's declaration came on September 26, a week after TURN filed its protest of the proposed general rate case settlement at the CPUC September 20. The settlement includes the utility and the state Division of Ratepayer Advocates. The deal is opposed by TURN and the Aglet Consumer Alliance. Utilities file general rate cases with regulators every three years to determine the amount of income they will need from ratepayers. In those cases - usually heavily litigated affairs - utilities detail planned expenses and capital improvements. The commission's approval of a general rate case sets utilities' total revenues. Utilities, however, have some leeway within those spending parameters - using some of one pot of money for another program, for instance. TURN notes that the groups were invited to the negotiating table after other parties agreed on a number of issues. The groups maintain that PG&E should be granted $386 million less in revenues than what the utility had requested in its triennial general rate case. Under the settlement, ratepayers would pay a total of $4.927 billion effective January 1, 2007. The utility had originally asked for $5.109 billion, while DRA pushed for $4.734 billion in revenues. TURN and Aglet urged a lower amount, seeking $4.445 billion (Circuit, Aug. 25, 2006). In its protest, TURN details line items of the proposed settlement, including reducing customer care expenses to prevent double counting, using customer deposits to offset rates, and reforming depreciation issues. Aglet called the settlement's revenue requirements "unreasonable" because PG&E's concessions in the deal do not reflect the strengths of Aglet's and TURN's positions. It contended that if the case were litigated, the two consumer groups would win. Darbee told financial analysts that he expects the settlement to be approved by the commission.