News Release

Electricity Deregulation: The Costs

HARVEY WASSERMAN
Author of the just-released book The Last Energy War: The Battle Over Utility Deregulation and senior advisor to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Wasserman said today: “Utility deregulation is a $200 billion scam that will gouge both the ratepayer and the environment for decades to come.”

CHARLIE HIGLEY
Energy research director for Public Citizen and author of the report “Money Harvest: Utility Holding Companies Are Threshing Ratepayers,” Higley said today: “The public has the right to control the electric power industry — reliable and affordable electricity is an absolute necessity in our modern society. Electricity deregulation, which is supported by both the Republican and Democratic parties, is taking the power system away from the people and handing it over to for-profit corporations. In his announcement today, President Clinton failed to mention that the high electricity prices gouging San Diegans, who have seen their electricity bills almost triple in the last several months, have been caused in part by for-profit suppliers holding power ransom until prices reached stratospheric levels. By continuing to promote the inherently doomed scheme of electricity deregulation, President Clinton would spread the deregulation disaster afflicting San Diego to the whole country.”
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JAMIE COURT
Executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in California, Court said today: “Two years after we fought against California’s deregulation law — once called a ‘model for the nation’ — San Diegans were the first to experience the greed of the energy monopolies. Electric rates went up 240 percent in the first month of deregulation. California has proven that deregulation takes power from people and allows the electric companies to gouge prices… We warned that deregulation would be a disaster and sponsored a ballot measure in 1998, Prop. 9, to try to protect people from it. But the utility companies spent $40 million and Prop. 9 was defeated. San Diego is the first area to be fully deregulated, and look what has happened… While offering some short-term relief, Clinton’s statement today suggests that he wants national deregulation of the energy market.”
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GARY GROESCH
Executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy in Louisiana, Groesch said today: “The big winners from electric deregulation are the utility companies and their industrial customers, who are able to negotiate lower rates, while residential and small commercial customers will definitely get higher rates in the short run, and possibly even in the long run. Deregulation has been pushed by groups like Citizens for A Sound Economy: an ostensible ‘citizens group’ that is underwritten largely by Koch Industries, the largest privately held oil and gas corporation in the United States.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020