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CULVER CITY : City's Utility Takeover Plan Gets a Boost

October 27, 1994|MARY MOORE

Southern California Edison is fighting it, but Culver City Mayor Albert Vera's proposal to have his city take over local electric utility service got a boost this week from Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles).

At a public hearing in Los Angeles held by the Assembly's Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which Moore chairs, Vera called it "illegal and immoral" that Edison controls electric service in Culver City. He said the utility's local customers are captives of Edison's high rates.

Several times during the hearing, Moore mentioned Vera's frustrated efforts to buy out Edison. She also pressed representatives from Edison and other investor-owned utilities to explain why they charge rates that are higher than city-run systems.

"I think (Mayor Vera) has a valid point," said Moore after the hearing. "I'm for lower rates for residential ratepayers . . . however it happens."

The Edison representative at the hearing--Gary Schoonyan, manager of energy regulatory planning, system planning and fuel supply--told the committee he was not familiar enough with Culver City's situation to comment on it.

But Schoonyan did outline the reasons for Edison's higher rates. The utility is bound by long-term contracts that force it to pay higher-than-market value for its power sources, he said. Thus, Edison pays $1.5 billion a year more than it should to generate power, costing ratepayers an additional 2 cents per kilowatt hour, he said.

That's why it makes sense for Culver City and some others to run their own electric systems, Moore said.

"If the cost is lower for municipals, how do we justify not allowing it to occur?" she asked.

The proposal for the local takeover of electric service is still being studied by the City Council.

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