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"Weak Aggregation" Efforts Failing in California, Pennsylvania:
California City Calls for Community Choice Amendment

If you call Palm Springs Energy Services (PSES) today, a representative of its "partner" Enron Corporation in Portland, Oregon, will answer the telephone. If you ask for Art Lyons, the ex-mayor and local hero of Palm Springs who fought to create PSES, they will not know who or where he is.

After years of heroic effort, Palm Springs' attempt to aggregate its residents and businesses for electric service appear to be collapsing under the state's anti-Community Choice law. After an early mailing to Palm Springs' 29,000 residents and businesses, a strong 30% "interested" response (9000 consumers) boosted Lyons' confidence that the city would be able to meet its 25% of market benchmark with Enron. "But when we called them back, they didn't respond." In the end, only 8.5% of Palm Springs' customers signed up with the city.

"We tried a TV and radio blitz in September, and got a few more customers, but not enough." Enron has indicated it can "no longer afford to subsidize Palm Springs' rates," and may raise its prices to the State's Power Exchange rates.

Similar news of failed "weak aggregation" efforts has arrived from Pennsylvania, where a California style anti-Community Choice law is now in place.

The Philadelphia Gas Works, a city-owned utility which attempted to aggregate residents and businesses for electric service under the state's "weak aggregation" deregulation law, has announced that it will discontinue its efforts and hand over customers to its "partner," Edison Source.

Earlier this year, City Council members predicted the program would mean the "beginning of the end for PGW" when its managers secured city authorization to aggregate 1500 Philadelphia Electric (PECO) customers under an extremely unfavorable public aggregation rule written by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PAPUC). In an apparent imitation of California's law, the PAPUC gave "ownership" of consumers to the state's 10 incumbent utilities while requiring public aggregators like the city of Philadelphia to win them over one by one.

It is ironic that Edison Source, which will inherit PGW's customers as property, is an unregulated subsidiary of Edison International, the California-based holding company that owns Southern California Edison Co., from whose exorbitant rates < a href=palmspr2.html">Palm Springs was attempting to escape.

Recognizing that the California deregulation statute (AB1890) disables municipal aggregation, the Berkeley City Council has passed a resolution requesting that the state legislature amend the law to allow Community Choice.

Copyright (c) 1999 by the American Local Power Project.