The California Public Utilities Commission Thursday decided totemporarily mandate that large electricity customers who have optedfor price breaks by voluntarily agreeing to be curtailed duringextreme peak-demand periods remain on their interruptible scheduleat least through March 31, 2001. The regulators took the action tocoincide with a statewide effort now underway to beef up thecurtailment program before next summer to have more voluntarycurtailed load in place if needed to avoid rolling blackouts duringpeak-demand times.

Currently, the state’s program that allows large customers toparticipate in one-year increments with an opt-out period eachNovember involves about 2,800 MW of collective load, the bulk ofwhich is in Southern California Edison Co.’s service territory. Onaverage, California electric customers collectively pay about $220million annually to subsidize the rate breaks to interruptibles,however, this summer in Edison’s service territory alone,interruptible customers were cut off 18 times this past summer dueto peak-demands on the state’s power system.

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