The Daily News of Los Angeles
Businesses who saw their electricity rates soar in the energy crisis of 2001 could get some relief under a plan by Southern California Edison to reduce rates from 8 percent to a whopping 26 percent.
The new rates face review this summer by the state Public Utilities Commission and, if approved, would not be implemented until Edison recoups the nearly billions of dollars it lost during the power shortage, spokesman Gil Alexander said Wednesday.
The cuts would be substantial, but bills would still be higher than they were before the energy shortage.
“The long-term power contracts that the state signed at the height of the crisis are still in place and being paid off,” he said.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, home to one of Southern California’s largest industrial complexes, skyrocketing rates and brown-outs forced layoffs, cuts in production and even shuttered some companies. Rolling blackouts were also seen in Ventura County and the Antelope Valley.
The proposed reduction still fails to meet what consumers need, though, argues Doug Heller, a senior consumer advocate for The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, a watchdog group that has decried the high surcharges since their inception by the CPUC. He said rates should have dropped about 18 months ago, when wholesale prices first began to fall.
“Inevitably, it’s too little too late,” Heller said. “When those prices fell, consumers should have felt relief as well. Instead, Edison held on to our money.
“They are hoping consumers will forget the billions of dollars we paid to bail Edison out,” he said. “It’s not enough. It continues to be a fight get back what truly belongs to the California consumer.”
Staff writer Patricia Farrell Aidem contributed to this report.