Southern California Edison and PG&E Corporation and its utility unit Pacific Gas and Electric Company have reached agreements with state regulators on plans that would allow them to avoid bankruptcy.

Southern California Edison recently filed a plan with the California Public Utilities Commission to allow the utility to pay much of its $3 billion debt by keeping the current retail rate and cutting off dividends to stockholders until 2003.

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and PG&E Corporation will become two separate companies. The retail electric and natural gas distribution system will be owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric, while electric generation transmission and natural gas transmission will be part of PG&E Corporation.

To pay off creditor’s claims, the reorganized PG&E will have the ability to issue debt and use new financing, it said.

In other California news, the California Energy Commission reported that California consumers used 5.1% less electricity this September compared to the same month last year.