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CU Applauds California Transmission Grid Proposal

Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Mark Savage
415-431-6747 (office)
415-572-0039 (cell)


SACRAMENTO, CA – Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, applauded California Treasurer Phil Angelides for proposing a coordinated and comprehensive plan by California’s energy agencies to ensure the reliability of the state’s electricity grid. At a news conference in support of the Treasurer’s initiative, the group outlined a number of issues it hoped would be incorporated in the final Medicare Modernization Act of the proposal.
“This summer’s blackout in the northeast helped to illustrate the importance here in California of addressing problems with the transmission grid to ensure reliable access to electricity,” said Mark Savage, Senior Attorney for Consumers Union’s West Coast Regional Office. “Given the failure of Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to provide any real leadership in this area, it is critical that California develop its own coordinated plan to protect its residents, schools, hospitals, governments, and businesses from transmission-grid disruptions.”
Consumers Union identified a number of issues and criteria it hopes will be reflected in the final transmission-grid plan:

 ensuring that California’s ratepayers, who are already paying billions and billions of dollars above the cost of service for electricity in the aftermath of deregulation and the energy crisis, are protected through careful attention to cost containment and evaluation of whether feasible, more efficient and loss costly alternatives exist;
 ensuring that the costs of transmission-grid projects are allocated or distributed fairly, so that, for example, projects designed to ensure electricity for a certain manufacturing area would not be paid primarily by residential ratepayers;
 ensuring that, individually and collectively, the transmission-grid projects provide equal access to electricity by geographic region and by customer class, so that suburban residents, low-income inner-city and rural residents, small businesses, and larger commercial and agricultural users all benefit;
 promoting energy efficiency where that can reduce the need for transmission-grid projects and reduce their environmental impacts;
 promoting use of renewable resources where that, too, can reduce the need for transmission-grid projects and their environmental impacts;
 making appropriate use of “local” or “micro” generation where appropriate, as well as longer-distance transmission; and
 ensuring that all private and public investment in the transmission projects under this plan remains in the public interest, without the manipulation and exorbitant profit-taking so devastating to Californians individually and the state’s economy as a whole.

“Californians know firsthand how disruptive and costly blackouts and other transmission grid problems can be,” said Savage. “We applaud Treasuer Angelides for his leadership in pushing this proposal to ensure that California will be better prepared in the future to address ongoing problems with the transmission grid.”


Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent testing, educational, and information organization serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased information about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.