Bailout Watch #50 – Jun 04, 2001

Published on

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

Bailout Watch #50 – Jun 04, 2001

Bailout in trouble, blackout to follow? Late last Friday, Edison informed Wall Street analysts that its campaign to get legislators to order ratepayers to pay off Edison’s $5 billion in deregulation losses was in trouble. The last time Edison delivered bad news on a bailout, the energy industry showed its displeasure by shutting off the lights. Indeed, blackouts have occurred whenever the energy cartel wants fast government action, even when supplies of electricity are far greater than demand on the day in question. (See BW#23). However, with investigations into price and supply manipulations intensifying, massive rate increases in the mail, and state officials talking about seizing plants, we’ll see whether the energy industry is willing to utilize blackout blackmail. Speaking of blackmail….

Seize the plans. No, it’s not a typo. Governor Davis has been pumping the fact that his administration has approved fifteen plants for construction here in California. Too bad that the folks who are building the new plants are the same companies that are using the present plants to gouge us. Gosh, do you think they might operate the new plants so as to maintain the outrageously high prices they are charging today? Does it make sense to leave our energy future in the hands of these profiteers? Consider this: Last week, one of the energy gougers, Georgia-based Mirant, announced it would not actually construct a plant recently approved for construction, because of the threat that the state might impose a windfall profits tax or even seize plants. A Mirant spokesperson said their decision was based on California’s "hostile business climate." In other words, "if you dare to challenge our ability to rip you off, we will not build another power plant." AKA: "We won’t built it blackmail." No problem. Now that we have a public power agency that can build plants, why let the thieves put yet another noose around our neck? The state should seize the plans for power plants that have already been approved for construction by any member of the energy cartel that refuses to reduce prices to fair profit levels. The state can then build the plants cheaper and be required to sell the power at no profit. Prices would drop by a factor of ten to one hundred.

The Chamber of Horrors. Meanwhile, the WSJ reports that the utility-controlled Chamber of Commerce, which betrayed its own small business members when it supported the 1996 deregulation law and opposed Proposition 9 in 1998, is once again acting as the front group for a "coalition" of the largest business organizations which want Edison to be bailed out — but do not want to have to pay for the bailout. The new chamber campaign now calls itself "Coalition for Energy Action." We remember back to the anti-Prop 9 "coalition," which the Chamber called "Citizens for an Affordable and Reliable Electric Service" (CARES!). Thanks to the utility-funded Chamber, today California has neither. Look for this new lobbying effort to organize opposition to a citizen effort to repeal the bailout if they get it through. We keep asking — BW#35, 45, 46 — when are the independent business leaders who care about the future of California going to stand up and take issue with the Sacramento lobbyist cliques that represent only a small minority of California’s business community?

Issue #50. Since we inaugurated this newsletter on February 1, tens of thousands of people around the country have become readers. Our purpose here is not just to get out the facts about the deregulation disaster, but also to explain what’s going on in Sacramento and encourage people to join us — by making donations (we’re a tax deductible non-profit), and, by signing up for our neighborhood Blackout Brigades, to become patriots in the cause of protecting California against the greatest greed-inspired rip off in decades. Thank you for your interest and support. And while we cannot get back to everyone who emails us, we read every one.

Join FTCR’s Blackout Brigades.

Judgment Day
519 Days Until November 5, 2002

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Videos

Latest Releases

In The News

Latest Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Releases