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CONSUMERS FIRST AND CALIFORNIA SMALL BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OPPOSE PUC RATE INCREASE

ORINDA, March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Consumers First:

Two public interest advocates in California today called on the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reject a staff proposal that will increase summer electricity costs for all Southern California Edison ratepayers. If approved, the plan will force Southern Californians to pay more for their electric service in the summer months.

"The PUC should reject this flawed proposal that will hurt residential consumers and small businesses," said Jim Conran, president of Consumers First, and Betty Jo Toccoli, president of the California Small Business Association.

Conran also stated that "Consumers will no doubt be confused and angry when they find out that this plan will only raise rates for Southern Californians, not for the entire state. What could be more unfair?" he said.

Last month, an Administrative Law Judge approved a plan designed to seasonalize electricity rates for the entire Southern California Edison customer base, which includes 1.8 million residential customers and 200,000 small business customers.

This would increase rates during the summer months, when greater electricity usage occurs, by approximately seven percent. Currently, a single uniform rate is charged to customer classes throughout the entire year.

"I don't know if there will be any winners if the proposed plan is put into place," said Toccoli, "but this much is clear: Residential customers and small businesses will be the big losers. Their electricity bills will certainly go up and the results could be disastrous for everyone," she said.

Toccoli also speculated that as the Southern California economy continues to emerge from a serious recession, a rate increase could damage that economic recovery. "What we need are reductions in operating costs not government-mandated increases on the things we use every day," she said.

In addition, Conran described the proposal as "a premature measure in the process of utility deregulation" and termed the plan "a last-ditch effort at government control of electricity rates. It has all of the pain and none of the benefits of deregulation," he said.

"I am very confident," said Conran, "that when the PUC takes all of these facts into consideration on March 13, it will reject this plan and leave in place one of the finest electricity rate systems in the world."
 -0- 3/7/96


/CONTACT: Jim Conran of Consumers First, 510-253-1937/

CO: Consumers First; California Small Business Assoc. ST: California IN: SU:

DS-MS -- SFTH020 -- 1330 03/07/96 17:05 EST
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Date:Mar 7, 1996
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