Arnold Didn’t Say Deregulation, but That’s What He Meant

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When Arnold announced that he
plans to reform California’s energy system during the State of the
State last night he steered clear of the word "deregulation." The Gov
knows that Californians have no taste for the failed energy
deregulation scheme that Sacramento foisted upon the state in the
1990’s. California consumers and businesses learned the hard way that
electricity is the type of service that is too crucial to our economy
and public safety to leave in the hands of unregulated power companies.

But, just because Arnold didn’t use the "D" word, doesn’t mean we’re in
the clear. In fact, loaded into his State of the State was the
Enron-style deregulation agenda that Arnold learned when he first met
with Ken Lay in May of 2001. (see our report)

Under a regulated system, the price of power and access to it is
controlled so it is affordable for everybody. Arnold wants to
deregulate the system to allow big businesses to cherry pick the
cheapest power, leaving residential and small business consumers paying
the highest price for electricity. That’s what he really means when he
says "We must reform the retail market so that large customers can get
competitive prices." To boot, when Arnold said that there were too many
energy agencies, the Gov is really saying that he wants to get rid of
the California Public Power Authority — the one public agency that can
be the great energy equalizer by ensuring that if consumers do not have
access to inexpensive electricity from the power industry, the Power
Authority will can step in and produce it.

And while the governor was properly critical of the energy contracts
signed during the power crisis by Gray Davis, he said nothing about the
deals given by Davis’s PUC appointees to Edison and PG&E, the
state’s largest power utilities that wrote the original deregulation
law with former Governor Pete Wilson. But of course Arnold isn’t
talking about the outrageous consumer bailout of the utilities, he just
accepted a $50,000 contribution from Edison.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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