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BAILOUT WATCH: Keeping an eye on the energy industry and the politicians

Bailout Watch #73 - Aug 31, 2001

SPECIAL SACRAMENTO WAR ROOM EDITION

ASSEMBLY POISED TO PASS EDISON BAILOUT WITH HUGE COSTS TO RESIDENTIAL RATEPATERS

Christmas in August for Edison. It may be Labor Day for the rest of us, but its Christmas for Edison and the energy companies to which it owes money. As we predicted, California Assembly Members are poised to vote later today on a $4.1 billion Edison bailout package, backed by utilities, energy companies and big business. SB 78xx, as amended after an industry lobbying onslaught in committee, not only requires a $4.1 billion bailout of Edison -- including interest -- (as presently drafted, to be paid for by most businesses in California). It also would leave residential and small business ratepayers to pay the bulk of the $100 billion+ worth of long-term energy contracts negotiated by the Davis Administration. It does so by freeing large electricity users to cut better energy deals with electricity wholesalers. Now that the state has been stuck with inflated contracts, the big users -- who were glad to have the state buying electricity for them a few months ago -- want to go back to "competition" and "deregulation," which they now call "Direct Access," and not have to pay for the expensive energy bought by the state. Finally, the bill would allow Edison more than one billion dollars in excess profits.

Legislature to Voters: You're Stupid. In a repeat of the legislative circus that brought California deregulation in 1996, the Assembly leadership intends to push the bill through Appropriations Committee this morning, then a full vote on the floor of the Assembly this afternoon, even though the bill has not yet been printed and therefore Assembly Members have not read it. Indeed, only a handful of lawmakers even know what's in it. What's the rush? Assembly Democratic leaders want to rush it through now that the Labor Day weekend is underway and most Californians have gone on vacation -- including many reporters. Our Sacramento "War Room" is in full swing, however, and we've been following the bill closely. You can read our factsheet summarizing the bill at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/utilities/fs/fs001922.php3

Big Business Puts the Heat on Republicans. Big Business lobbyists were seen Thursday in the Capitol halls pressing Assembly Republican leader Dave Cox and other GOP top-dogs to follow fellow Republican Bill Leonard to support the bailout, now that it represents a boon for big business as well as Edison. Why do they like it so much? Direct Access (see above). Among the fifty or so amendments offered this week alone, Direct Access was chosen to remain in the latest edition, permitting Big Business an escape route from the State's over-priced, long-term contracts, leaving ratepayers holding the bag.

Wait. What's that bill do again? Conversations with lawmakers and Assembly staff demonstrate the confusion surrounding this gargantuan bailout bill as it moves to a vote by the politicians. On Thursday, for example, some people thought the option to purchase overpriced transmission lines was tagged at $2.4, others at $2.7 billion -- a 300 million dollar discrepancy (we're still waiting to see the actual bill to know for certain). Like plastic surgery gone awry, this bill has been nipped and tucked time and again in a race to revise earlier blunders. Despite innumerable reworkings the legislation was unavailable, less than 24 hours before the anticipated vote, such that virtually none of the voting members -- let along the public -- had even read it!

Prove you're not stupid. Call your Assembly Member and tell them to vote NO on bailout bill SB 78 XX. It is essential that they hear from you BEFORE THE VOTE. Voice your opposition to this unacceptable, unjust, and unnecessary betrayal of public interest. To call: Dial (916) 319-20XX (replace the XX with their district number listed next to Assemblymembers' names below -- single digit districts such as District 1: (916) 319-2001):

Assemblyman Samuel M. Aanestad Rep 3rd district
Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist Dem 22nd
Assemblywoman Dion Aroner Dem 14th
Assemblyman Roy Ashburn Rep 32nd
Assemblywoman Patricia C. Bates Rep 73rd
Assemblyman Russ Bogh Rep 65th
Assemblyman Mike Briggs Rep 29th
Assemblyman Thomas M. Calderon Dem 58th
Assemblyman John Campbell Rep 70th
Assemblyman Bill Campbell Rep 71st
Assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla Dem 11th
Assemblyman Tony Cardenas Dem 39th
Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza Dem 26th
Assemblyman Gil Cedillo Dem 46th
Assemblywoman Wilma Chan Dem 16th
Assemblyman Edward Chavez Dem 57th
Assemblywoman Judy Chu Dem 49th
Assemblyman Dave Cogdill Rep 25th
Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn Dem 24th
Assemblywoman Ellen M. Corbett Dem 18th
Assemblyman Lou Correa Dem 69th
Assemblyman Dave Cox Rep 5th
Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher Rep 72nd
Assemblyman Manny Diaz Dem 23rd
Assemblyman Richard L. Dickerson Rep 2nd
Assemblyman John A. Dutra Dem 20th
Assemblyman Marco Antonio Firebaugh Dem 50th
Assemblyman Dean Florez Dem 30th
Assemblyman Dario Frommer Dem 43rd
Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg Dem 45th
Assemblyman Tom Harman Rep 67th
Assemblywoman Sally Havice Dem 56th
Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg Dem 40th
Assemblyman Dennis Hollingsworth Rep 66th
Assemblyman Jerome Horton Dem 51st
Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson Dem 35th
Assemblyman Fred Keeley Dem 27th
Assembly Member Christine Kehoe Dem 76th
Assemblyman Dave Kelley Rep 80th
Assemblyman Paul Koretz Dem 42nd
Assemblyman Jay La Suer Rep 77th
Assemblywoman Lynne C. Leach Rep 15th
Assemblyman Bill Leonard Rep 63rd
Assemblyman Tim Leslie Rep 4th
Assemblywoman Carol Liu Dem 44th
Assemblyman John Longville Dem 62nd
Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal Dem 54th
Assemblyman Ken Maddox Rep 68th
Assemblyman Abel Maldonado Rep 33rd
Assemblywoman Barbara S. Matthews Dem 17th
Assemblywoman Carole Migden Dem 13th
Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy Rep 59th
Assemblyman George Nakano Dem 53rd
Assemblyman Joseph Nation Dem 6th
Assemblywoman Gloria Negrete McLeod Dem 61st
Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza Dem 55th
Assemblyman Rod Pacheco Rep 64th
Assemblyman Robert Pacheco Rep 60th
Assemblyman Louis J. Papan Dem 19th
Assemblywoman Fran Pavley Dem 41st
Assemblyman Anthony Pescetti Rep 10t
Assemblywoman Sarah L. Reyes Dem 31st
Assemblyman Keith Richman Rep 38th
Assemblyman George Runner Rep 36th
Assemblyman Simon Salinas Dem 28th
Assemblyman Kevin Shelley Dem 12th
Assemblyman S. Joseph Simitian Dem 21st
Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg Dem 9th
Assemblyman Tony Strickland Rep 37th
Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin Dem 1st
Assemblywoman Helen Thomson Dem 8th
Assemblyman Juan Vargas Dem 79th
Assemblyman Carl Washington Dem 52nd
Assemblyman Howard Wayne Dem 78th
Assemblyman Herb Wesson Dem 47th
Assemblywoman Patricia Wiggins Dem 7th
Assemblyman Roderick Wright Dem 48th
Assemblyman Mark Wyland Rep 74th
Assemblyman Phil Wyman Rep 34th
Assemblywoman Charlene Zettel Rep 75th

Good news amidst the mayhem. The Windfall Profits Tax (SB 1 XX - Soto) jumped through its first hoop today as it passed out of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee. The bill would tax power companies when they profiteer. But don't pop your corks just yet, there are a few more hurdles, including getting the bill signed by Governor Davis.

FOR INFO ON HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR STOP THE BAILOUT CAMPAIGN IN SACRAMENTO DURING THE COMING TWO WEEKS, CALL THE "BAILOUT HOTLINE" at 310-392-0522 EXT 8 -- OR EMAIL US: ratepayerrevolt@consumerwatchdog.org

Judgment Day
431 Days Until November 5, 2002