February 1, 2001
Who Lost Deregulation?
Utility Workers Cautious on Restructuring
Deregulation places the cost, safety, and reliability of the U.S. electric utility industry at risk. So says the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, which represents 50,000 workers at 74 utilities. A UWUA position paper warns that competition could cause shortages and high prices: "This is the standard business cycle.... There is no reason to believe that the laws of supply and demand have been repealed." The paper proposes 11 tenets for restructuring:
s Provide competition for all.
s Respect state control. ("It is especially inappropriate for the federal government to mandate the introduction of retail competition.")
s Leave the restructuring of policy to legislators.
s Don't rush.
s Protect worker and public safety.
s Provide for stranded investments and stranded workers.
s Protect the value of investments in generation. ("Customers will receive no benefit if ... plants are shut down and prices rise to pay for new plants.")
s Preserve reliability.
s Preserve environmental and social protections.
s Encourage appropriate corporate structures. ("Existing utility companies need not be broken up or dismantled to insure that competition can exist and be fair. . . . Combinations or mergers of utilities must be examined closely to assure that service will not be compromised, nor undue market power created and exercised.")
s Protect stable prices. (em JS
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