August 11, 2000


California Senate Passes Utility Rate Rollback To Pre-Deregulation Levels

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10 — Adopting the recommendation of consumer advocates and former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor, the California State Senate this morning passed legislation to rollback electric utility rates to pre-deregulation levels. AB 2290, authored by Sen. DeDe Alpert (D-San Diego) passed the Senate by a 28-0 vote and is to be immediately transmitted to the state Assembly.

"Now it's on to the Assembly and the Governor's desk," said Maureen O'Connor, who met with lawmakers this morning urging support for the legislation "We're on the march to victory."

"This relief for beleaguered ratepayers must be signed by the Governor if elderly San Diegans are to be able to afford air conditioning this summer and restaurant owners are to be permitted to stay in business," said Harvey Rosenfield, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "The fact that the Senate acted so quickly shows that the ratepayer rebellion has tremendous momentum. This issue will not go away until real relief is provided to ratepayers. Utility executives must not be allowed to punish ratepayers with excessive profiteering."

Both advocates praised Senate President John Burton for his leadership in the legis-lation's passage.

On July 20, former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor and FTCR President Harvey Rosenfield called for the following actions:

1. Declaration of a State of Emergency.

2. An immediate rate rollback to electricity rates in effect prior to deregulation (July, 1999), and a freeze on those rates.

3. Repeal of the 1996 deregulation law and a restructuring of the energy system to ensure affordable and reliable electricity.

On July 25, the San Diego City Council and County Board of Supervisors declared a State of Emergency and adopted resolutions addressing the crisis, including: (1) demanding that the Public Utilities Commission impose a rate rollback to July, 1999 rates; (2) calling for legislative hearings on whether to repeal deregulation; and (3) exploring the use of local utility franchise fees to provide ratepayer relief. At an emergency hearing on August 4, the California Public Utilities Commission rejected the request for a rate rollback, stating that it did not have the authority to issue such an order.

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