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How to Manage Our Complex Power Grid

August 27, 2003

"Davis Still Can Ease Power Rates," by Harvey Rosenfield (Commentary, Aug. 21), is misleading about what happened and what could have happened during California's energy crisis, and what is happening now.

Rosenfield accuses the governor of "capitulat[ing] to the blackout blackmail." It is outrageous to suggest that California should have invited power outages. The recent East Coast blackout made clear the consequences resulting from widespread blackouts.

Gov. Gray Davis took necessary steps in the face of well-documented manipulation of the energy market to keep the lights on. Davis implemented the nation's most successful conservation program, speeded the licensing of new power plants and entered into long-term contracts at prices one-fifth of what we were then paying, contracts that supported the construction of new power plants. Instead of the contracts, Rosenfield states that Davis should have seized control of private power plants; but this is America, not the old Soviet Union. Rosenfield would have had us "buying" the plants at a time when their market value was sky-high -- a terrible idea.

Now, Rosenfield says that California should reduce rates. That's exactly what's happening. The state Supreme Court agreed that we needed to keep crucial power on California's grid, and today's rates reflect costs going forward. Costs are coming down. Southern California Edison has already lowered its rates by $1.5 billion per year.

S. David Freeman


California Power Authority



It would appear that electric power, in light of the crisis in the Northeast, as well as the recent experience in California, is a national security matter, not a question to be solved by lemonade-stand capitalists speculating on what they can get away with. The necessity of nationalizing energy is apparent. This is too important for the silliness of the mysticism of the marketplace to prevail.

Ted McCray


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