A national electric competition bill introduced by Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) Jan. 30 that would allow customers to choose their electric supplier by December 2003, invoked mixed reactions.
Bumpers, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, said the bill would establish a uniform federal system to avoid "certain chaos," which would result from legislating different guidelines for the industry.
In addition, the proposed legislation would do the following: authorize state commissions to establish stranded-cost recovery levels; repeal the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act and the Public Utility Holding Company Act; allow for regional regulation of the transmission grid by independent system operators; and require any company selling retail electricity to ensure that 5 percent of the power is generated from renewable resources.
House Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), who last year had introduced a comprehensive electric restructuring bill that would have given all customers choice by Dec. 15, 2000, says he is "encouraged" by the Bumpers bill. He says it will help add "substantial momentum" to competition.
The Chemical Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 190 U.S. chemical companies (the chemical industry is the nation's largest industrial consumer of electricity, using 6 percent of the power generated in the country each year), says the legislation "effectively addresses the crucial issue of market power."