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Jan 30, 2001
CONTACT: Paul Herzog (310) 392-0522 x311
Angry Citizens Protest 'Bailout Bob's' Plans for a Utility Bailout
Public Demands Hertzberg Speak for Public, not Utilities, in SacramentoDozens of citizens, outraged at Speaker of the Assembly Robert Hertzberg's support for a multi-billion dollar utility industry bailout, gathered with buckets outside the Speaker's office to demand 'Bailout Bob' stop carrying the water for the utilities and represent the public's interest.
Speaker Hertzberg has been in consultation with Wall Street investment bankers to write legislation that would constitute a ratepayer/taxpayer double whammy with both rate increases and a taxpayer bailout of the utilities. Yet the audit released today of Edison's parent company shows that they funneled $4.8 billion in profits, accrued over the first three-and-a-half years of deregulation, out of California into overseas investments. Angry citizens today refused to pay a penny more to bail out companies that abandoned Californians to protect their profits.
"We're here today to send Speaker Hertzberg a message that is loud and clear: we won't stand for another utility bailout at public expense," stated Medea Benjamin, Director of Consumers Against Rate Hikes. "The Speaker has been working hand in glove with Wall Street to come up with a bailout plan to gouge us as ratepayers and taxpayers. He should be representing Main Street, not Wall Street."
This same Wall Street firm acknowledged last week that California's rolling blackouts were more likely to be a tool to soften up the voters to rate hikes than an actual necessity.
"Ratepayers have already been gouged once for the utilities' mistakes. We were promised 20% savings in our bills under deregulation. Instead, Edison took their record profits, sent them overseas, and left me as a ratepayer paying the bill," said Valerie Rodriguez, an Edison ratepayer. "We're already paying a 10% rate increase and we won't pay more. Speaker Hertzberg and the Legislature have to stand up to the utilities and guarantee there will not be another bailout."
Benjamin and angry citizens put forward a plan similar to that proposed by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton to ensure the public has power over their energy future.
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