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New energy restructuring coalition called "sham" by energy, business, agriculture and ratepayer groups.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 10, 1995--A new energy restructuring coalition unveiled in San Diego yesterday is being criticized by energy, business, agriculture and ratepayer groups as a "last-gasp effort" by San Diego Gas & Electric and the state's smaller utilities to sabotage efforts to reform California's electric industry.

The coalition has come out in support of the "PoolCo" energy restructuring proposal announced recently by the California Public Utilities Commission. The PoolCo proposal is roundly opposed by California's leading energy, business, agriculture and ratepayer groups.

"Most of the coalition's members have something to lose if electric rates in California are finally reduced," said Bill Campbell, president of the California Manufacturers Association, noting that electric rates in California are 50 percent higher than the national average. "In reality, most of these people want to keep rates high so they can continue profiting at ratepayer expense. This is a last-gasp effort by San Diego Gas & Electric and many of the smaller utilities to protect their turf."

"This coalition isn't about reform of the state's electric industry -- it's about limiting competition and preserving the status quo," said Michael Boccadoro of the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association. "PoolCo would prevent real competition among energy generators, create an even bigger energy bureaucracy and allow a handful of energy suppliers to dominate the market and artificially influence prices. This is what the coalition is supporting. It has nothing to do with real reform."

"Here's the bottom line -- if the coalition gets its way, and the PoolCo proposal goes into effect, electric rates in California will remain high," said Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of the Independent Energy Producers. "There's nothing in PoolCo to encourage the competition among energy suppliers that's needed to bring down rates."

"It's no accident that TURN, the state's oldest ratepayer group, has refused to join this coalition and is, in fact, opposing the PoolCo proposal," said Mike Florio, TURN's senior attorney. "PoolCo won't really reform the industry, nor will it provide rate relief, especially if the utilities are allowed 100 percent recovery of their stranded costs."

Among the groups opposing PoolCo are the California Retailers Association, California Manufacturers Association, TURN, Agricultural Energy Consumers Association, School Project for Utility Rate Reduction, California League of Food Processors, California Large Energy Consumers, Independent Energy Producers and Pacific Gas & Electric.

CONTACT: McNally Temple Associates

Lisa Haines, 916/447-8186

916/565-9193 (pager)
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Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 10, 1995
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