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Energy Czar: State's Future Looks Bright

Freeman Offers Positive Prediction About Power Reserves

Paul J. Young, Staff Writer

May 17, 2001, 12:57 a.m. PDT


Experts are predicting 260 hours of rolling blackouts in California this summer. But there's reason to be optimistic about the future, according to the state's energy czar, S. David Freeman.

. "We'll beat this wrap," Freeman said in an exclusive interview with CBS 2 News Wednesday. "By 2003, we will start having a surplus [of power].

"We've been at this for a year, and we'll lick it in another year."

Freeman's references were to the efforts of Gov. Gray Davis and state lawmakers to secure California against future shortages of electricity.

Actions in Sacramento this week put the state on the road to running its own power system.

Wednesday, Gov. Davis approved the creation of the California Consumer Power and Conservation Financing Authority. It's purpose: to make more than $5 billion in revenue bonds available for the construction and operation of power plants.

"The governor is seeing to it that private companies build plants," Freeman told CBS 2 News. "And if they don't, the state of California will."

According to Freeman, the half-dozen power generating facilities in the works now will eventually insure the state against megawatt deficits. He predicts that, in a couple of years, the cost of electricity will come down.

"Once we get a surplus, the prices will stabilize and go down," Freeman said. "This new California Power Authority is going to see to it that private companies are supplemented with enough power plants.

"The supply and demand curves will cross in 2002."

Soon after that, he said, Californians can look forward to a little relief in their pocketbooks.

"I don't think it's prudent to say that prices will go down a lot, because the gas boys have got us by the yang, yang, too," Freeman said half-jokingly. "But no more rate increases."

Freeman's sanguine forecast came a day after the California Public Utilities Commission approved rate hikes ranging between 15 and 80 percent for residences and businesses dependent on Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric for power.

The increases were seen as essential to offset the costs borne by the state since January to buy megawatts for the cash-strapped investor-owned utilities.

The governor's office has yet to provide a precise figure of how much has been drained from the budget to keep the juice flowing into California.

-- PHO (, May 17, 2001


Again nothing is said about transmission lines. Davis' office never does.

-- Chance (, May 17, 2001.

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