News Release


DATE: September 1, 2000

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108



San Diego - While the efforts of Assemblymembers Charlene Zettel, Patricia Bates, Jim Battin, Susan Davis and State Senator Dede Alpert should be commended for their hard work over the last two weeks, Chairwoman Dianne Jacob is skeptical that ratepayers may still be forced to pay for the excessive electricity costs forced upon San Diegans.

"This is the best deal we could get under the circumstances", said Jacob. "We didn't get everything but we did get something that will stop the pain for the short term."

"However, there is much more work to be done to assure that San Diego ratepayers are held 100% harmless for the accumulated debt in the balancing account and that we get permanent rate relief", she added.

"We are innocent victims of a failed deregulation experiment and we must not be required to pay for the mistakes of others. Those responsible should pay, not San Diego ratepayers!"

Investigations into the practices of SDG&E and others are underway and critical to determine responsibility for these exorbitant costs.

Jacob continued, "We should not get too excited about this rate relief measure. Remember, AB265, alone, is nothing more that an installment plan with a superficial 6 1/2 cent rate cap. This means that ratepayers could get a big balloon payment at the end of 2003 because the $150 million may not be enough to cover the debt. Also, the 6 1/2 cent cap can be changed by the PUC every six months (up or down) so there is no guarantee that this rate cap will last after a six month period which just happens to be after the November election."

Under the original Alpert/Davis bill (AB2290), which imposed a permanent 3 1/2 cent rate cap through December 2003, the average bill would have been $55 a month instead of the $68 per month level that will occur under AB265.

"While these actions by the legislature appear promising, time will tell whether they are truly in the public interest, in the interest of the utility companies or whether they are just for political expediency," Jacob stated.

After spending the last two weeks in Sacramento working to reduce electricity rates for San Diego, Jacob has reported that the proliferation of power company lobbyists have filled the halls and offices of legislators and the governor. "It's been an uphill battle all the way!"