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Consumers Have an Alternative to PUC Plan

November 13, 1994

The article outlining alternative proposals to the state Public Utilities Commission's plan to deregulate the electric industry ("Proposals Add Confusion for State's Users of Electricity," Oct. 24) reflected the views of the utilities and environmentalists but left out the consumer viewpoint altogether.

For the record, there is a consumer-led alternative to the PUC's plan: It is called Community Access to Competitive Electricity. Put forth by the consumer group Toward Utility Rate Normalization, community access would allow all Californians--not just the big guys--to share in the benefits of competition in the electricity marketplace.

Unlike the PUC's "direct access" proposal, which gives early competitive choice to large customers but holds small customers captive to the utility and its high prices until at least 2002, community access would bring lower rates through competition to all customers at the same time.

Community access would empower large and small customers within a community to harness their collective market power to get better deals for all. Local government agencies would serve as purchasing agents for all customers within their jurisdiction and negotiate for low-cost power on the wholesale market for electricity.

Communities would be able to choose how much power should come from renewable sources and how much funding would be devoted to energy efficiency and other social goals. The PUC's plan, on the other hand, could throw all these policy goals by the wayside.

Any reform of the electric industry should provide meaningful choice to all consumers. Community access can achieve this goal. The PUC's direct-access proposal cannot.


Executive Director

Toward Utility Rate


San Francisco

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