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Solutions for State's Electricity Crisis

February 11, 2001

* Thanks for an interesting article showing the different approaches of Republican and Democratic legislators to solving the imbalance between electricity supply and demand ("Legislators to Promote Energy Conservation," Feb. 6). While the Republicans would increase supply, I have to favor the Democratic approach of reducing demand. Simply, reducing demand can occur within weeks, and building new power plants will take years.

Republican Sen. Tom McClintock's proposal to build nuclear power plants is the equivalent of being on a sinking ship and saying "don't bother bailing, let's order a new pump from the mainland."

PETER JACOBSEN

Sacramento

*

The criticism that energy contracts will lock California into higher rates when prices might decline as a result of increased capacity within the state may be true in the short term. However, as capacity in the state increases, it's possible, even likely, that energy purchased under those contracts will be sold on the open market just as other generators are doing today.

Obviously, this may be a few years away but new capacity could place the state's energy supply in surplus, thus allowing the state to sell the contracted supply and use the money to pay off the bonds that will fund the original purchase while allowing savings resulting from new capacity to be passed on to the consumer.

MICHAEL SOLOMON

Los Angeles

*

Re "Keying Rates to Usage Level Gains Steam," Jan. 31: Steve Hansen, a spokesman for Edison, says, "The baseline is considered sort of a subsistence level of usage." Edison sets the baseline at 50% to 60% of the average demand in the consumers' area.

Why isn't the baseline set at the full 100% of the average demand instead of at the 50% to 60% "subsistence" level? Complying with Edison's current baseline to avoid increased rates isn't encouraging me to conserve electricity; it's forcing me to live under Third World conditions.

PAUL FULLER

Palm Desert

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