Hidden costs from California's electricity crisis

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Monday, February 19, 2001 5:23 AM MST Hidden costs from California's electricity crisis

A look at some of the hidden costs from California's electricity crisis:

The state is spending about $50 million a day to keep the lights on. According to Assembly Republicans that money could have:

Paid in one day the salaries of 1,250 police officers (at $40,000 per year).

Paid in one day the cost of building 2 1/2 miles of new four-lane freeway.

Paid in two days the cost of extending the school year by a month for 130,000 middle school students.

Paid in four days for the proposed expansion of the state's healthy families program.

Paid in one week the state's share of a 10-year program to clean up Lake Tahoe.

Paid in one week the cost of a monthlong sales tax holiday.

Paid in one week the cost of a new prison.

Paid in 10 days the cost of reducing class sizes in the fourth grade. Other hidden costs:

Southern California Edison has halted the $125 million to $200 million it planned to spend this year replacing 40-year-old equipment. Replacing that equipment on an emergency basis can be five to 10 times more expensive.

Businesses were hurt by two days of rolling blackouts and many more of voluntary shutdowns. Feared widespread blackouts this summer could hurt the economy, and tax revenues.

The Department of Water Resources is refusing to pay for power at prices it considers unreasonable. But that is being challenged in court, and the state could be forced to pay the price.

Utilities pay property taxes on their transmission lines. If the state buys the lines, it may have to reimburse local governments for the lost income.

The state has hired highly paid experts to help negotiate a rescue of the state's two largest utilities, and an end to the power crunch.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 19, 2001

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