CA - Utilities Spent More Than $70 Million In Lobbying And Donations : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Utilities Spent More Than $70 Million In Lobbying And Donations SACRAMENTO (AP) --

California's three investor-owned utilities gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to former Gov. Pete Wilson and key legislators who pushed through the state's electricity deregulation law, a political watchdog says.

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., said the utilities spent $51.6 million on political campaigns between 1994 and 2000.

Most of that money, about $39 million, was spent to defeat Proposition 9, a 1998 ballot measure that would have rolled back key provisions of the state's 1996 deregulation law.

From 1994 until he left office early in 1999, Wilson received $171,000 in campaign donations from the three utilities -- Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric -- or their parent companies, the center said.

Sen. Jim Brulte, the Rancho Cucamonga Republican who was the lead author of the deregulation law, got $212,186 and Sen. Steve Peace, D-El Cajon, another key architect of the law, got $268,135 between 1994 and 2000.

All three have said the money did not influence their decisions.

Wilson has said he viewed deregulation as a way to boost the state's economy and cut utility rates.

Utilities were initially cool to deregulation but decided to support it after seeing it as a way they could be compensated for nuclear power plants and other noncompetitive investments, Wilson has said.

The utilities also have spent $18.6 million on lobbying the governor, state agencies and the Legislature since 1994, the center said. That includes $640,000 by PG&E in the first quarter of 2001, when the utility was preparing to file for bankruptcy and negotiating for a state bailout.

-- PHO (, May 30, 2001

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