By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
But can‘t the companies make a case that there’s no alternative?
The recent posturing by the utilities and Wall Street is meant to give the public that impression -- but actually demonstrates that they are ”crying wolf“: Edison, after threatening to declare bankruptcy without a cash infusion from an immediate rate hike last Friday, has not filed for bankruptcy. Standard & Poor‘s, the Wall Street firm that last Wednesday promised the utilities’ credit rating would be slashed to junk-bond status without a rate increase within 48 hours, did not downgrade the companies. There is no wolf at the door.
California called the bluff of Edison and PG&E by ordering audits of their corporate finances. An independent and thorough review of Edison International and PG&E, however, cannot be completed in the week [between Christmas and New Year‘s] allotted. Auditing two $30 billion corporations in six days is ridiculous.
So you see ways the crisis could be solved without increasing rates for residential consumers. How?
Governor Davis should immediately bring online all power plants that are unnecessarily offline to ensure the reliability of the electricity system. The governor, Legislature and PUC should implement a short-term plan that requires the utilities to sell all the electricity that they generate to residential consumers on a cost-of-service basis, which would require no rate increases. Public officials should develop long-term plans to implement a public power system for California that will protect ratepayers from the economic nightmare deregulation has created.
What can be done if the governor and Legislature instead buy into bailing out the utilities once again?
Undo the unwarranted rate increases and order refunds through a ballot measure. Since we are a publicly supported nonprofit, we’ll need the power of the public to win that campaign.
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