Bill to restart retail electric choice dies in Calif. Senate committee


July 10, 2003 — A California Senate energy committee has voted down a bill that would have restarted retail electric choice in the state by 2005.

The bill, named Assembly Bill 428, was introduced by Assemblyman Keith Richman. The bill needed to pass out of committee by Friday to be considered this year, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Consideration of another bill which would restore electric choice, Assembly Bill 816, has been postponed until 2004. A third bill, Senate Bill 888, had the language about retail electric choice removed from it before it came to a vote.

California stopped retail electric choice in September of 2001 amid runaway electricity prices which eventually led to the reevaluation of electric deregulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and by individual states.

AB 428 would have had state regulators create rules by 2005 to restart retail electric choice. It would have also allowed customers who use 500 kW or more to choose whether for the next three years they want to participate in electric choice or stay with their local utility.

Some objections to the bill included worries that it would be hard to plan for future electricity needs if customers had the freedom to switch from retail electric choice to using their local utilities every three years. Also, some are concerned that as written, the bill might not encourage new generation to be built in the state.

The debate also surrounds the language about who should adopt the rules for retail electric choice. AB 428 would have left the specifics up to utility regulators, but the deleted part of AB 888 would have had the California legislature approve the rules before implementation.

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