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Dec 13, 2000

CONTACT: Doug Heller - 310-392-0522 x309

Edison Throws in the Towel on Deregulation

Advocates Warn Against Another Bailout
Los Angeles--In a dramatic turnaround, Edison International CEO, John Bryson called for the re-regulation and re-integration of the California electricity system. Consumer advocates with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) criticized Mr. Bryson for ignoring his company's role in creating the current energy crisis and warned that Edison wants ratepayers to pick up the tab for its mistake.

"Edison wrote the law that created this mess, and, while it is appropriate that they stand up and admit they were wrong, Edison and the other power companies should be held responsible for the failure of deregulation," said Doug Heller, consumer advocate with FTCR. "The ratepayers are the innocent victims of deregulation and should never pay for another bailout of the utility companies."

Through a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign, Edison and PG&E were the chief architects of California's 1996 deregulation law that has led to the present energy crisis. Edison lobbied for the rate freeze that Mr. Bryson now contends may cause rolling blackouts for Edison customers. Mr. Bryson failed to note that Edison and PG&E have collected $17 billion in overcharges, according to a report by TURN, from ratepayers as a result of this rate freeze.

FTCR has introduced a series of proposals to end the deregulation experiment in California and establish a reliable and affordable energy system. The plan has been submitted to the Governor and members of the state legislature. It calls for:

refunds to San Diego customers (and customers of other regions that may subsequently experience deregulation) of excessive electricity charges through a windfall profits tax on profiteering power generators;
  • oversight of electricity rates by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC);
  • an integrated resource planning process to address future energy needs;
  • the creation of a state power authority to ensure the fulfillment California's energy needs, promote conservation, and construct and operate power plants, transmission and distribution facilities;
  • changes to facilitate the authority of local and state government to exercise the power of eminent domain if necessary; and
  • strong accountability mechanisms for state agencies.

FTCR, which has filed an initiative campaign committee, Californians for the Protection of Ratepayers, says that if elected officials do no act, voters will enact a public power measure at the ballot box.

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