CONTACT: Susan Henry, Consumer Liaison; e-mail:
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate Sonny Popowsky said today
that he will urge state and national policymakers to adopt the
recommendations contained in the Report of the Consumers Energy Council of
America (CECA) regarding the continued need to provide consumers with
stable, reasonably priced electric service.
"The last thing American electricity consumers need is high, volatile
electricity prices," Popowsky said. "The purpose of electric restructuring
is to make consumers better off, not to expose them to uncontrolled price
spikes from immature markets."
Popowsky was one of several state consumer advocates who served on the
Electric Industry Restructuring Forum that advised CECA on the Report
released today. Other members of the Forum included representatives of
virtually all segments of the electric industry.
One of the primary issues addressed by the Report is the design of
"default" service, that is the service that is received by the great
majority of customers, even in states like Pennsylvania that allow retail
customers to choose alternative electric suppliers. The Report recommends
that "default service should be designed to assure stable, predictable and
equitable prices" and that such service should be the "benchmark" against
which competitive offerings can be compared. "This is a critical
recommendation," Popowsky stated. "All customers should continue to be able
to receive safe and adequate service at reasonable prices from a default
service provider. In most states, that provider will be the incumbent
utility. To the extent that competitors can provide service that is either
cheaper in price or greater in value to consumers -- such as green or
renewable power -- then consumers will benefit even more from restructuring.
But in no case should consumers be made worse off."
Popowsky also endorsed the recommendations in the CECA Report regarding
the need to enhance programs to ensure the availability and affordability of
electric service for low income consumers. As stated in the CECA Report, it
would be inapproriate to allow changes in the electric industry to "result
in the degradation of the historical provision of access to essential
electric service for those who are the most vulnerable."