Residens hold little hope for solution from Davis-Bush meeting : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Residents hold little hope for solution from Davis-Bush meeting

GARY GENTILE, AP Business Writer

Tuesday, May 29, 2001, 2001 Associated Press


(05-29) 14:13 PDT LOS ANGELES (AP) --

Californians who see themselves as unwitting victims of the state's failed experiment with energy deregulation hold little hope that Tuesday's brief meeting between Gov. Gray Davis and President Bush will result in any meaningful relief.

Many expressed frustration with politicians who continue to point fingers and bicker over solutions to the energy crisis while the state braces for a summer of blackouts and massive rate increases that will take effect in June.

"Someone just needs to take control of the situation and do something about it instead of all this political posturing," said Loren Walker, 38, of Oakland. "Do something for the people for once."

Davis and Bush were scheduled to meet for about 20 minutes after the president delivered an address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. Davis has urged Bush to order federal regulators to place temporary caps on the price of wholesale power sold to the state.

The cost of buying power for California is expected to reach at least $50 billion this year, up from $7 billion two years ago. Bush opposes price caps, favoring conservation and building more power plants.

"He's got his mind made up, I would think," Gladys Cannon, a 75-year-old retiree from West Covina, said of the president's opposition to federal price controls. "Only giving (Davis) 20 minutes, I don't think (Bush) is going to be that receptive."

Earlier Tuesday, Davis met before the media with business owners and residents of San Diego and Los Angeles, saying he would bring their concerns about the energy crisis to Bush.

Cannon and her husband, Frank, told Davis they support temporary price caps. The couple said they have seen their electric bill rise about 32 percent in February and March to $149.

Electric bills for many residents of Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric, the state's two largest utilities, will go even higher starting this month when a state-imposed rate increase takes effect. Households with the heaviest energy use could see rates increase up to 37 percent.

"If we had a breathing period where there was regulatory caps for awhile, it gives us time to build the plants," Frank Cannon said. "I think it's just pure stubbornness on the part of President Bush to not do it."

The San Diego Building Owners and Managers Association, which represents the commercial real estate industry in the city, favors short-term caps because rising electric rates are hurting business throughout the state, association president Cybele Thompson said.

She said business groups need to urge Bush to drop his ideological opposition to price caps. "It will take more pressure from the business and the Republican community in California," she said. "We are the business community, we are inherently Republican, but we support capping rates in the short term."

Across the state, residents are at odds over the wisdom of price caps and pessimistic that Davis and Bush can compromise. Some fear price caps would discourage investment in new power plants. "My pocketbook says cap it. My capitalist side says I don't want government interfering," said Melissa Soria, 24, an administrative assistant in Sacramento. "I feel conflicted."

Christine Rodriquez, who owns "Chiquita's Family Restaurant" in San Diego, said she hopes Bush listens to the stories of real hardship she and others related to Davis on Tuesday. If not, she said, there will be political consequences. "I voted for Bush. I'd like to vote for him again," she said. "But this is a very important issue to me. This is my life. This is how my family is going to make it or not going to make it. I'll be watching very closely to see how this is handled."

2001 Associated Press

-- Swissrose (, May 29, 2001

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