Pocketbook issues, like all others, tend to split along political lines.
Meeting on June 12, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee focused for the first time on what customers really think about choosing their own energy vendor.
Nevertheless, despite the shift toward pocketbook issues, and away from so-called "inside-the-Beltway" concerns, the testimony came largely from organized consumer groups, and it appeared split down political lines: urban vs. rural, private vs. public, business vs. residential.
Jurisdictional topics came into play (em such as whether restructuring should fall under the federal or state governments (em but as committee member Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) warned, speaking to those who have opposed a federal mandate, "We're past that point."
Customer Aggregation: Urban vs. Rural
Customer aggregation rose high on the priority list of several participants, including G.A. "Chip" Julin, president of the Building Owners and Managers Association International and chair of Morlin Management Corp.
The commercial real estate industry in the U.S. spends more than $20 billion annually on electricity, Julin said. One-third of a typical office building's operating expenses go to electricity. With 85 percent of office buildings owned by small businesses, he said, even a modest rate reduction of 10 percent would "significantly impact the bottom line [and] improve America's competitiveness," Julin said.
"That's why BOMA International has placed utility deregulation as the number one issue on commercial real estate's advocacy agenda for the 105th Congress."