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