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Bernstein Was in Error on SoCal Edison Unit

June 11, 1989

Harry Bernstein's normally excellent reporting wasn't apparent in his May 23 column, "Workers Edgy About SoCal Edison's Plan to Buy SDG&E." The column omitted some important facts.

He says some Southern California Edison workers worry that "profits from alternative energy sources are not controlled by the PUC. So to take advantage of that wrinkle in the law, Edison created a subsidiary, Mission Energy, and buys much of its energy with no PUC limits on profits from its very own Mission."

That is pure nonsense. Whenever SCE goes before the California Public Utilities Commission on a general rate case, the cost of power from all sources is subject to review. With a "captive company" such as Mission, it is not uncommon for the PUC to disallow some of the costs of production, even though the commission lacks jurisdiction on some aspects of Mission's activities.

Further, to allege that workers are concerned about excess work being done by a nonunion subsidiary is to overlook the fact that the Mission Energy subsidiary is a small part of SoCal Edison. If one reads the annual report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for 1987, it clearly shows that if organized labor wishes to find a cash cow within a utility, it is the funds wasted in dealing with the regulatory process that could otherwise go into wages and equipment.

I do not work for Edison nor do I own stock in the company. I have been on the other side fighting a utility in another state before FERC, but the questions raised in the column direct attention away from the serious national financial issues about the creation of unproductive debt due to mergers.

The bottom line will probably show we have one of the best public utilities in the nation and San Diego Gas & Electric will be lucky to have them.



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