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NEWS RELEASE
Nov 17, 2000


CONTACT: Doug Heller - 310-392-0522 x309

Edison Proposes Massive Consumer Rate Hikes, Continuation of Failed Deregulation Policies

Advocates Say PUC, Governor Should Reject Unacceptable and Illegal Plan
Southern California Edison asked the Public Utilities Commission, in a filing announced today, to allow the company to back-bill ratepayers for billions of dollars and increase present electricity rates by 9.9%. Furthermore, the company proposes a series of 2.5% rate increases in six month intervals beginning in two years.

"Edison wants the government to foist the company's energy cost overruns entirely onto innocent ratepayers, instead of addressing the fundamental problems of this misguided deregulation fiasco," said Doug Heller, consumer advocates with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "Edison's proposal would not only result in a major rate increase, it would force consumers into a grossly unfair credit card scheme that will be paid with interest for years to come."

In its filing, Edison asserts that it would abide by this 9.9% increase until 2003, when they would be allowed to file another rate increase. Advocates noted that Edison and the state's other major utilities made a similar promise in 1996 when they agreed to the original deregulation plan. At that time, the companies agreed to frozen rates until 2002, or until they had earned enough in excess rates to pay off old debts and bailout inefficient plants. The request for the back-billing for this summer's electricity and the new rate increase contradicts the promises of 1996, according to advocates.

"Edison's proposal is unacceptable and illegal, and it should be dismissed by the PUC outright. Rather than allowing the private utilities to determine our energy policy, Governor Davis and the Legislature must look for long-term solutions to the failed electricity scheme. If Edison and the other utilities are allowed to write our energy future, we will be paying for it for years to come," said Heller.

Consumer advocates contend that the state must not blame the victims -- residential and small business ratepayers -- for the energy crisis; instead, state leaders must acknowledge that the deregulation experiment has failed and that the state should develop a new energy policy. California ratepayers need an energy plan that protects affordable electricity rates for consumers and creates a California power authority to plan, build and operate publicly-owned power plants, which will ensure a reliable supply of electricity, according to FTCR.
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