FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2003

Toll Free Number

 800-684-6560

 (PA only)

CONTACT: Susan Henry, Consumer Liaison; e-mail: shenry@paoca.org

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."

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