Bailout Watch #23 – Mar 22, 2001

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BAILOUT WATCH:  Keeping an eye on the energy industry and the politicians

Bailout Watch #23 – Mar 22, 2001

Wake up and smell the extortion. Late Tuesday night, after two full days of rolling blackouts, Gov. Davis and lawmakers promised to make sure the QF energy generators are paid. Yesterday, there were no blackouts. Gee, is there a pattern here? Maybe a timeline would help.

Tuesday 1/16/01 — Utilities say they’re broke, default on payments to generators.

Wednesday 1/17/01 — Blackouts start.

Thursday 1/18/01 — Emergency legislation grants Gov power to use taxpayer $$ to buy energy.

Friday 1/19/01 — Blackouts end.

Friday 3/16/01 — Edison exec tells Dow Jons that pressure for bailout is diminishing.

Monday 3/19/01 — Blackouts start.

Tuesday 3/20/01 — Gov and legislators promise to make sure QF energy suppliers paid.

Wednesday 3/21/01 — Blackouts end.

$6.2 Billion Bamboozle. The state agency that oversees the California power grid (ISO) has identified $6.2 billion in overcharges by out-of-state power companies to consumers, the state and utilities since last May. The ISO data shows that extreme market manipulation has caused the state’s energy crisis.

What Does This Mean? Consumers Should Not Pay a Dime. All along, PG&E and Edison have been pushing for a massive ratepayer/taxpayer bailout of their companies in the wake of California’s deregulation disaster. Why haven’t they sued the energy companies who have evidently bilked California (and the utilities) for billions? Because it’s easier for the utilities to attack the ratepayers rather than their energy industry buddies. But now that the facts are in, it must be clear that the ratepayers are innocent and all talk of consumer rate increases must cease. The utilities should drop their lawsuit against the state and begin one against the energy pirates. Governor Davis: do not give away ratepayer money to the utilities.

Rewrite those long-term contracts. Governor Davis has begun to sign long-term, over-priced contracts with these thieves; the high prices, we’ve been told, are the best we can do. Well, we now see why. Attention Governor Davis: stop using taxpayer money to pay ransom to the energy cartel. Stop playing victim and exercise some market power of your own: tell the generators if they don’t pay refunds and offer a reasonable price going forward, you’ll impose a windfall profits tax or, if necessary to prevent blackouts, seize their California plants — and their plans to build new ones.

Poetry Corner:
Give-away Gray,
Will he give it all away?
If he does,
There’ll be hell to pay
On Election Day.

Bailout Watch invites submissions.

Consumer Watchdog
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