Advocates Consider Repudiation of Deregulation an Important Policy Shift
Los Angeles– California Public Utilities Commissioner (PUC) Carl Wood announced yesterday that he believes California’s experiment with electricity deregulation has failed and that the state should reinstate a regulatory system that requires “just and reasonable” electric rates for retail customers. During a Town Hall meeting in Los Angeles, held before the meeting of the PUC, all five members of the Commission heard testimony of community members describing public concerns about deregulation.
After the public input, Commissioner Wood expressed his position that “controlled (electric) rates’should never have been abandoned.” Furthermore, he said that the regulators’ objective should no longer be about “perfecting competition, but re-asserting regulatory controls.”
“This repudiation of deregulation represents a sea-change in philosophy for a member of the Public Utilities Commission,” according to Doug Heller, a consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, who attended the meeting. “We hope that other commissioners will recognize the need for a return to regulation before California experiences another deregulation breakdown such as the one in San Diego this summer. How many price spikes, threats of blackouts and utility company bailouts will we have to endure before the rest of the PUC, the Legislature and the Governor properly conclude, as Commissioner Wood has, that deregulation is bad for consumers and bad for the economy?”