ACWA urges California PUC to preserve direct access to alternative power supplies

Representatives of public water agencies in California are urging the California PUC preserve the option to allow power users to select alternative suppliers.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 3, 2001 — Representatives of the single largest class of electricity users in California — public water agencies — are urging the California Public Utilities Commission to retain their powers to protect ratepayers from excessive costs by preserving the option to allow power users to select alternative suppliers.

At issue is the state's request to sharply restrict direct access to other power supplies if electricity provided under state-negotiated contracts is too costly.

However, those state contracts were not subject to traditional reasonableness and prudency reviews typically conducted by the CPUC. In fact, it took lawsuits by several news media organizations and others to force disclosure of the contracts' details, many months after they were signed.

Without such CPUC reviews, customers cannot be protected from unreasonable costs, the Association of California Water Agencies noted in written comments on the proposed CPUC decision.

The state is asking the CPUC to impose "exit fees" on power users who seek non-DWR power. The proposed fees are so high that they provide sufficient disincentive to anyone considering a switch, ACWA charged.

"Simply put, without any CPUC review or oversight of DWR costs, if CPUC prohibits direct access, DWR will have carte blanche to do whatever it wants to do at whatever costs they alone deem reasonable," ACWA said. "To destroy direct access at this time would be to completely abrogate any responsibility by this Commission over electricity costs in California."

The CPUC announced this morning that it will delay its decision on direct access until August.

ACWA is a statewide organization whose 440 public water agencies are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit

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