Power initiative off for now

Published on

The Associated Press

A consumer rights group has scrapped plans for a ballot initiative to overturn the proposed government bailout of troubled utility Southern California Edison.

The Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumers Rights had planned to launch an initiative reminiscent of Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure that slashed property taxes and limited the Legislature’s ability to raise them without a two-thirds vote of the electorate.

The group had been a vocal opponent of an unsuccessful plan negotiated by Gov. Gray Davis to let Edison sell bonds to pay its estimated $3.9 billion in debts. The bonds would have been paid off by the utility’s customers.

The Legislature failed to approve the measure, however, and in the meantime Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission agreed to settle a federal lawsuit Edison brought against the commission.

Under terms of the settlement, the state will maintain higher electricity rates it instituted last year until Edison has accumulated enough cash to pay its debts.

The foundation said it will support another consumer group, The Utility Reform Network, in its appeal of the settlement.

“The people won in the Legislature. The public stopped the bailout,” Doug Heller, a consumer activist with the foundation, said Monday. “The governor and his PUC went around that into federal court, making it very difficult for us. We don’t have a state law to overturn.”

Consumer Watchdog
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