NewEnergyNews: CA ENERGY: ACCESS OR MANIPULATION?

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    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    CA ENERGY: ACCESS OR MANIPULATION?

    This is definitely an area where California is a trendsetter. So what's coming, CA?

    California PUC Takes Step to Deregulate Part of Energy Market
    Paul Elias, May 24, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), President Michael Peevey; Timothy Simon, PUC commissioner; consumer advocate group The Utility Reform Network; top Democratic lawmakers Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks.
    The earlier problems weren't exactly part of a trend (click to enlarge)
    WHAT
    The PUC moved to explore the possibility of re-instituting “direct access,” a program allowing large commercial power buyers (hospitals, universities, businesses) to purchase electricity from alternate providers. This is considered a step toward deregulation of energy and a possible vulnerability to crisis like the 200/2001 shortages and price spikes.

    WHEN
    - Vote to consider “direct access” was May 24.
    - Consideration will last a minimum of 18 months.

    WHERE
    State of California

    WHY
    - Pro: California State University, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. & the Alliance for Retail Energy Markets. Argument: Retail energy competition allows shopping for lower rates, prices have stabilized.
    - Anti: The Utility Reform Network, Democratic legislators. Argument: Deregulation makes possible market manipulation, soaring utility prices and rolling blackouts as occurred in 2000/2001 and the legislative response to that crisis precludes deregulation until 2017.
    - The PUC’s action has 3 phases. 1. determine legal authority. 2. decide if it should. 3. when to roll it out.
    Which way?
    QUOTES
    - Peevey: "Consumers have choices for most of the purchases they make, and we will evaluate whether and how that may include electricity…Retail competition may exert further downward pressure on rates."
    - Simon: "Introducing competition has not always brought about lower rates for customers…"
    - Perata, Nunez, Kehoe, Levine: "The prohibitions enacted are not ambiguous.."

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