electric industry restructuring.
That's what Matthew Freedman, energy policy analyst, announced at a Public Citizen briefing on the advocacy group's Power for the People, a "public interest blueprint" for the new electric market.
"Competition in the electric power industry could either usher in a new era of cleaner, more affordable energy services or prove to be the biggest customer shakedown of our time," the report reads. Possible outcomes of restructuring, the report notes, include:
s Higher bills for small business and residential consumers and discounted large-consumer rates
s Elimination of energy-efficiency programs
s Unregulated monopoly utilities stifling competition and increasing profits
s Bail outs of inefficient, high-cost utilities, which will reward shareholders for bad business decisions.
To prevent those outcomes and to ensure that customers receive benefits, the blueprint proposes:
s Withholding recovery of costs for uneconomical utility assets, except in special circumstances
s Breaking up vertically integrated monopolies by divesting assets
s Creating an independent energy agency to oversee energy efficiency, low-income, universal service, and research and development programs
s Funding and agressively promoting energy-efficiency programs with a systems benefits charge.
The nonprofit Public Citizen group was founded by Ralph Nader in 1974. Copies of the $20 report can be obtained by calling (202) 833-3000. (em JS
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