It's ba-ack: PUC to take another
look at retail power purchases
Sacramento Business Journal —
May 4, 2007
Companies that produce and sell electricity, and organizations that want to buy it, are pressing the state Public Utilities Commission to again allow customers to choose electricity suppliers.
The PUC curbed retail competition in electric markets after the energy crisis of 2000 and 2001. Customers with contracts were allowed to keep buying power from outside suppliers, but nobody could sign new contracts. With Enron dragging the industry down, there wasn't much choice anyway.
Now, power suppliers in a group called Alliance for Retail Energy Markets say it's time to lift the ban on so-called "direct access" by power producers to customers, and Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Peevey agrees. On April 24, he proposed that the PUC consider restoring retail electricity competition. Electric markets have stabilized, utilities are in better financial shape, and recent rate changes make retail choice fair for all customers, he said.
Regardless of who sells the power, utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. would still deliver it over their electric lines. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Roseville Electric and other municipal utilities not governed by the PUC don't allow customers to choose other power suppliers.
Supporters of retail competition include the California State University system, AT&T Inc., Los Angeles County, Catholic Healthcare West and Del Taco Inc. The Utility Reform Network opposed it, acting for environmental, consumer and labor groups. So did Southern California Edison.