SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., March 7, 2002 — The California Public Utilities Commission has again delayed voting on two proposals which affect the future of electricity deregulation in the state.

The two proposals would decide whether to end electricity competition or allow companies with existing contracts to continue buying from energy sellers other than their utilities, The Associated Press reported.

Californians now pay among the highest electric prices in the U.S. When prices skyrocketed in the summer of 2001, many businesses switched to sources of cheaper electricity from utility competitors. The PUC reports that by October, more than 81,000 of the state’s energy customers, mostly large businesses, were buying power from a competing seller.

If competition is not retroactively stopped, thus voiding those contracts, the extra power the state had to buy will cost small consumers more to purchase.

Under a proposal from Commissioner Carl Wood, retail electric competition would be canceled retroactively to July 2001, ending thousands of contracts with energy competitors in the process. Wood has delayed a vote scheduled for Wednesday to look at an alternate plan from Commissioner Jeff Brown, who would allow existing contracts to continue, but charge them an exit fee to help the state pay its $10 billion power-buying debt, AP reported.

For more information, visit the Calif. PUC at