California Utility's Rate Plan

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November 23, 2000 California Utility's Rate Plan By BLOOMBErG NEWS AN FRANCISCO, Nov. 22 Pacific Gas and Electric, California's largest electric utility, asked state regulators today to end a freeze on customers' power rates and allow it to recover losses from buying power on the wholesale power market this year.

The utility proposed recovering $3.4 billion in such costs from customers over five years. The plan would keep bills from immediately doubling, the utility said in a filing with the state's Public Utilities Commission.

Pacific Gas, a unit of the PG& E Corporation, said the plan would offer customers protections against volatile energy prices while also allowing shareholders to recover the energy costs over a reasonable period.

The plan would not expose the utility's customers to "the rate shock experienced by San Diego residents this summer," Gordon R. Smith, Pacific Gas's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Rates paid by customers of San Diego Gas and Electric surged before the state Legislature temporarily capped prices for residents and small businesses. San Diego Gas is the only investor- owned electric utility in the state whose rates are no longer frozen.

As the price the utilities paid for power more than quadrupled in the summer, PG& E and Edison International, which owns Southern California Edison, had billions of dollars of losses because they were not permitted to pass those costs to customers. Both utilities have filed federal lawsuits to collect those costs.

http://www.nytimes.com/auth/chk_login

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), November 23, 2000


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