By Katie Allen
SANTA MARIA — When most of us choose an airline seat, we’re focused on getting an aisle or window seat. But for 1,200 people in Santa Maria, a lot more thought goes into airline seats — in fact, it’s their livelihood.
They work for Zodiac Seat Shells, part of Zodiac Aerospace, a Global Aerospace Group based in France. Its Santa Maria plant manufactures and assembles parts for seats used in business-class airplanes.
Zodiac Aerospace, one of the largest non-agriculture employers in the area, was considering moving operations to its facility in Chihuahua, Mexico, to stay competitive and compete with low-cost countries. That move would have left the 1,200 employees in Santa Maria without jobs.
To continue providing local jobs, Zodiac Aerospace began pursuing different options. The company found support in PG&E, which was able to help significantly reduce their monthly electric bill.
PG&E’s Anthony Hurtado, a customer relationship manager, and Bob Riding an economic development specialist, recommended the Economic Development Rate (EDR).
PG&E created the EDR to help grow jobs in California. It gives special discounts for businesses that require high-energy loads to operate or continue operating in the state.
A qualified business can receive either a 12 percent standard discount, or a 30 percent enhanced discount off its bill, depending on the county where it operates.
Zodiac qualified for the standard EDR, saving the company a significant amount on energy costs over five years. The company was on the new rate in record time — less than a month. Zodiac CEO Klaus Koester credits essential partnerships with PG&E for making it happen.
“We are an international company which is competing with manufactures worldwide,” Koester said. “We believe that the people in California manufacture outstanding products with superior quality and shortest possible lead times compared to our competition. The fact that PG&E and the state work with us as a manufacturer to reduce our electricity costs is a positive step for both Zodiac and the local community.”
With PG&E’s support, more than 40 companies have signed up for the rate since 2014, creating almost 5,000 local jobs and enhancing economic vitality in communities across PG&E’s service area throughout Northern and Central California.
“PG&E is focused on keeping our customers, their families, and businesses growing and thriving in California,” said Hurtado.
For Zodiac and others on the EDR rate, keeping jobs and conducting business in California is getting easier and less expensive. PG&E is proud to be part of their success.
For more information on PG&E’s Economic Development Rate visit www.pge.com/economicdevelopment or contact PG&E by phone at 877-202-4276.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.