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
“We’ve traded a regulated monopoly for an unregulated cartel,” says state Treasurer Phil Angelides. “We have to stop figuring out how to pay their ransom, and take action to stop it.” Sentiment in favor of seizing power plants is on the rise in the state Senate.
With things in such disarray, it would be comforting to report that strong steps are being taken to ensure California‘s long-term future. Unfortunately, there is substantial disarray in this area as well, though things may be getting better.
Maneuverings around the state public power authority proposed in January by Angelides and Senate President John Burton have been very strange. After some early waffling, Davis endorsed the idea of such an authority on January 26, then began feeling serious heat from the utilities and power companies, giving him major second thoughts. The power-authority proposal passed the Senate two months ago, then languished in the Assembly. It passed the Assembly’s Energy Committee more than a month ago and stalled out as stories of Davis‘ cold feet grew.
Then Davis’ Press Secretary Steve Maviglio proved the accuracy of reports of gubernatorial backpedaling. In a March 29 letter to the editor of the Sacramento News & Review -- responding to “Asleep at the Switch,” a cover story I wrote on the governor‘s management of the power crisis -- Maviglio rejected Davis’ endorsement of the power authority.
“Governor Davis,” his press secretary wrote, “has not ‘embraced the proposal for a state public power authority’ offered in January by Treasurer Phil Angelides and Senate President Pro Tem John Burton. The governor is more interested in streamlining state agencies, not adding to red tape.”
I immediately contacted Angelides about the letter of disavowal from the Governor‘s Office. He expressed surprise and immediately told Burton, who then phoned one of Maviglio’s superiors.
Less than two days later, speaking before the California Democratic Party Convention in Anaheim, Davis renewed his support for the power authority. Now DWP chief David Freeman is slated to head up the power authority, which has at last begun moving again in the Assembly.
The governor would prefer to make all the appointments to the new agency -- a problem, given his spotty record of energy appointments -- but has agreed to include Angelides, who first proposed the power authority. Some worry that the agency could be tarnished by having to manage the state‘s power-buying function even before getting to its real tasks of building power plants and promoting conservation and renewable energy. But let’s not begrudge the governor a little progress.
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