Golden state goes from cuts to surplus

Published on

The Times (London)

California has new energy troubles -a surplus. After weeks of blackouts because of power shortages this year, the state is now selling surplus energy at a loss.

An unusually cool July combined with surprisingly effective conservation measures meant that consumers have used less energy than predicted, leaving the state in the position of having power to sell. Officials said that if temperatures rise next month, the surplus would soon disappear.

Consumer groups criticised the sale as further evidence that state officials have mishandled the energy policy and have not understood how to trade energy in a deregulated market.

“They goofed, and it looks like taxpayer money is being thrown down the toilet,” Harvey Rosenfield, of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said. Officials would not confirm how much they were losing from the sale.

Meanwhile, in the first significant investigation of the Bush

Administration, the White House’s plans to increase the nation’s energy supply came under close scrutiny from Democrats who said that government policy was being influenced by the oil industry.

The congressional auditing office demanded that Vice-President Richard Cheney should surrender reports on how he developed his energy policy report, drawn up in May. The highly unusual demand could lead to a stand-off between Congress and the White House.

It was made at the request of Democrats in the House of Representatives who claimed that the Vice-President was swayed by the interests of the energy industry and ignored environmental concerns when he drew up the Administration’s energy proposals.

The audit demand concerns private meetings held by the Vice-President’s energy task force while drawing up Administration policy. By obtaining records of who attended which meetings, Democrats hope to discover whether energy executives had secret access to information.

Consumer Watchdog
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