Soaring electric bills for an estimated 100,000 south Orange County customers prompted two supervisors Monday to seek a countywide emergency declaration that would call on the governor for help.
Supervisors Tom Wilson and Todd Spitzer, whose districts extend to the San Diego County border, will ask approval for the declaration at today's board meeting.
San Diego County already has declared a state of emergency. Wilson said a similar action by Orange County would help stir debate on energy supplies, conservation and deregulation.
The declaration would also request the state attorney general to investigate the effects of market activity on electricity costs and would call on Gov. Gray Davis to use his emergency powers to find new electricity supplies.
Deregulation of privately backed utilities in 1996 hit consumers hard, especially in San Diego, where electric rates have more than doubled for customers of San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
Some Orange County customers recently received checks in the mail along with letters describing the rebates as "your share of the funds associated with SDG&E's achievement of several milestones related to electric industry restructuring." It is the company's hope, the letter stated, that "during this time when electricity prices have increased significantly . . . this check can help provide some relief."
A company spokesman could not be reached for comment Monday on the rebates.