Action by the Governor is needed to reduce the huge costs that blackouts will inflict upon the people of California. Jobs are being lost in California because reliable power is necessary for business. Identifying why these blackouts are occurring can avoid additional blackouts next year.
Three needed actions are:
1. Eliminate some of the reasons for the electricity shortage. During the 1990s, the California Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted to deny our utilities the rates needed to pay off the bonds issued to build new power plants. The PUC misled the public by calling their denial the “Stranded Cost” problem. The Utilities accepted rigid price controls to avoid having to default on these bonds. The Utilities were forced to sell their gas power plants to out-of-state owners.
2. Assign responsibility for avoiding blackouts back to the Utilities or to a non-political State Agency At this time, no one is responsible. The ability of the Utilities to finance and build power plants was destroyed by the politics of the 1990s. The “quickee” generators endorsed by Governor Davis are not low cost power plants. Governor Davis’s price control obsession will increase the number of blackouts. When prices are equal, the generators will sell their electricity to the states that pay their bills. Less pollution and reduced fuel cost can be achieved by replacing old power plants with new high efficiency two cycle designs.
3. Increase California’s supply of electricity by signing contracts with the owners of standby power plants. Means for payment at ISO power rates by the State of California is needed to pay for their higher cost power
Walter A Sauter,
a concerned engineer