Consumer Watchdog Condemns California Senate Energy Committee Vote For Western Power Trading Casino

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Los Angeles, CA — The California Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee voted today to pass legislation turning California into a giant Western power trading casino that puts ratepayers and the environment at risk, Consumer Watchdog said in condemning the vote for AB 813.

“This is a giant giveaway to billionaire investors, energy traders, and former allies of Enron that brought us market manipulation, rolling blackouts, and a $40 billion tab two decades ago that we are still paying for,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker. “The legislation is a scheme that will leave the market open to trading manipulation that will raise electricity rates and undermine California’s control of carbon emissions by empowering appointees of President Donald Trump to overturn California laws.

“California leaders are being pressed by former allies of Enron, including Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council who vouched for deregulation two decades ago as a way to increase energy efficiency, lower costs, and promote renewable energy,” said Tucker. A new Consumer Watchdog report demonstrates that precisely the opposite happened, and is likely to happen again if the legislation passes.

To read the report, Betting Against the House: How California’s Leaders Could Gamble Away Our Energy Future On A Western Power Trading Casino, click here.

If passed, the legislation would hand control of the energy trading system from California’s Independent System Operator to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Coal-heavy states joining a new regional transmission organization could sue California over its clean energy laws. The state could see its laws invalidated in court or preempted by FERC. Californians could wind up subsidizing coal power and expensive transmission lines originating in other states.

Nevertheless, a majority of the committee voted to pass the bill out. It will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some members of the committee unhappy with the legislation voted for AB 813. That included Senator Robert Hertzberg. Hertzberg warned that if the legislation did not address his concerns, as a member of the Judiciary Committee where the legislation heads next, he would “advocate and lobby against it.”

“This legislation is not fixable,” said Tucker. “There is nothing to fix. This is a scam to take away California’s energy independence and hand the system over to profiteering billionaires and energy traders. Lawmakers who fail to stop this measure, do so at their own peril.”

– 30 –

Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker is a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, following everything from oil and gas to the regulation of toxic substances in the state of California. She comes to us from Marketplace, the largest U.S. broadcast show on business and economics heard by ten million listeners each week on 400 radio stations. Liza worked at this public radio show for a decade, first as Commentary Editor and then as Senior Editor for both Washington and Sustainability News.

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