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Sep 26, 2000

CONTACT: Doug Heller - 310-392-0522 x309

Edison Wants $2 Billion From Ratepayers; Advocates Respond

Los Angeles--Consumer advocates in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco condemned Southern California Edison's request for a $2 billion rate increase and a lifting of the rate freeze that has protected Los Angeles ratepayers from the exorbitant electricity prices faced by San Diego consumers this summer. The company, in an announcement similar to one made by PG&E in recent weeks, wants to back bill consumers at least $2 billion for higher than expected energy rates this summer.

"The utilities demanded a rate freeze in 1996, when it was a highly profitable idea and now that the well has dried up, they want out," said Doug Heller, consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "Edison wants it both ways: they freeze rates at levels that are too high, and when the energy market changes they want to end the freeze so they can raise rates even further. It demonstrates an utter disregard for the needs of consumers."

Although, Edison claims to have lost $2 billion due to the rate freeze this summer, the company had earned over $6 billion dollars in excess profits due to the rate freeze since 1998, according to SEC filings. In addition the company earned hundreds of millions of dollars this summer by selling energy at excessively high rates. The Public Utilities Commission and the Court of Appeals has ruled that utilities cannot retroactively bill consumers for any costs incurred during the rate freeze.

"Electric companies have a stranglehold on consumers because we must buy energy. Politicians created this monster in 1996 when it unanimously passed the deregulation law that is now terrorizing us," said Heller. "Now our elected officials must slay this dragon and restore a reliable, reasonably priced and well-regulated energy system."


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