Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-CO), closed his final hearing on electric industry restructuring with what sounded like a promise to push utilities down the bumpy path of retail wheeling.
"My vision for the future is one where all consumers have the ability to pick and choose among numerous competitive suppliers of electricity," Schaefer said. "It is one where all consumers have the benefit of lower rates, better services, and new innovations brought on by competition . . . where the power over electricity rates and services is freed from government control."
Schaefer, chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Commerce Committee, was expected to have a bill ready by the end of spring (officially June 20). However, the last subcommittee hearing was May 15, and no bill was forthcoming as of press time.
At the hearing, Schaefer noted that each utility has the chance to shop for electric power since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opened the transmission grid. He urged Congress to give consumers the same benefits of the free market.
"Congress will have failed if our legislation allows only the largest consumers of electricity to benefit from increased competition," the congressman said, adding that access must come sooner, not later.