Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Electric Regulation makes it to Ballot

It's official. California voters will decide whether to turn back time and re-regulate the State's electricity markets. Dan Weintraub suggests that this article is a must-read to understand what we'll be voting on.

Like the claims and counterclaims that wracked the state during the 2000-2001 energy crisis, nothing about the electricity initiative is likely to be simple.

Despite the convenient labels, California never really deregulated electricity when the state Legislature changed the ground rules of the once-monopoly business in 1996.

Now, the ballot measure wouldn't really re-regulate, although the consumer group promoting it likes to call it a "re-regulation and blackout avoidance" initiative.

What it would do is thwart any expansion of something called "direct access," a way that big businesses and other power users can bolt from their utilities and buy power from independent providers.

Shocking. People would try to mislead voters to support or oppose a ballot measure. Truly shocking.

One indicator for me at least comes from CPUC President Michael Peevey--who would stand to gain more power from an expanded regulatory scheeme. Last week speaking to a business group in the San Fernando Valley, he said he's personally oppose the measure because it does not solve the problems that ail the system. Makes sense to me.