In a take-it-or-leave-it gesture, California consumer advocatesTuesday handed the governor and state legislature an ultimatum torollback electric industry restructuring and insert the state in anexpanded role over the development and operation of power plants.If the elected officials fail to act, the consumer activists planto put another measure on the statewide ballot in 2002.

The sponsors of a failed 1998 anti-electricity deregulationballot measure, Harvey Rosenfield and Douglas Heller, of theFoundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, CA,offered a six-point “reform” proposal that is aimed squarely atwhat the consumer activists allege are abuses by the state’sinvestor-owned utilities, merchant power plant operators and stateenergy regulators.

Southern California Edison Co., one of the major architects ofthe state’s 1996 electricity industry restructuring law, quicklyreacted with a prepared statement calling the proposal “misguided”and one that “would hurt consumers and threaten the foundation ofCalifornia’s economic recovery.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Gray Davis, who will submit the state’sproposed electricity plan to federal regulators Friday, said thegovernor is still considering suggestions from all of the state’sstakeholders and is trying to blend those ideas into the stateplan.

“Deregulation of electricity was a disastrous mistake,” saidRosenfield, who originally came to prominence when he helped winvoter approval for California’s 1988 insurance industry reforms.”It must be fixed to protect our health, safety, our economy andthe environment. When we say fixed, we do not mean a superficialfix that protects politicians and the utility companies.

“Elected officials created this mess four years ago, and it isthe job of Gov. Davis and the (state) legislature to fix it.”

Some of the consumer advocates’ six points are being made byother stakeholders, such as refunds to San Diego consumers who paidretail electricity rates three and four times greater this summer,but their call for a return to integrated resource planning,creation of a “state power authority,” expropriation of existingprivate sector generating facilities and institution of a windfallprofits tax are not so far being formally suggested by any of thestate’s other energy stakeholders.

“Instead of resorting to threats and demagoguery, Harvey shouldbe joining other responsible consumer advocates to work oneffective solutions that are truly in the public interest,” saidTom Higgins, senior vice president for corporate relations atEdison International, parent company to the utility.

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