Energy deregualtion bill moves forward

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Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would loosen government regulation of the power market while encouraging utilities to build new power plants in California was approved Monday by a key Assembly committee.

The bill from Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, has the backing of a number of major utilities including Southern California Edison. Supporters say the proposal is not a return to full deregulation that some say led to the energy crisis of four years ago. The bill does not impose new regulations. Instead, the bill is a “balanced framework,” according to Nunez.

Opponents, which include some independent power producers and consumer groups, say the bill will not work as proposed. Doug Heller, of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, warned that deregulation of the electricity market has been tried before and resulted in consumers and business paying big rate increases. He said some regulation of the system must be imposed to protect consumers.

Although several members of the Assembly’s Utility and Commerce Committee expressed their own reservations, a majority passed on the proposal. The bill still needs to be passed by at least one more committee before it can be considered on the floor.
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