Davis tries to recover electricity rates

The Associated Press
Wednesday October 04, 2000

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis has demanded that federal authorities move quickly to reduce electricity rates, but has failed to appoint a director of the one state agency set up to help power customers, a newspaper reported Tuesday. 

The Democratic governor has not named a chief to the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, which is part of the Public Utility Commission, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. 

The watchdog office was created after deregulation of California’s electrical power industry began four years ago. 

The office was set up to help consumers fight for lower electricity, natural gas, telephone and water bills. 

Consumer advocates say the absence of a director may have prevented the governor from getting an early warning about the price spikes that have tripled some utility bills in San Diego. 

And the continuing vacancy has hurt the office’s ability to work to lower prices, they say. 

“He didn’t appoint one of the key people who could have sounded the alarm about energy deregulation,” said Bob Fellmuth, director of the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego. “It’s a terrible failure on his part.” 

Davis spokesman Roger Salazar said the governor hopes to fill the ratepayer position quickly, and that the governor wants the best person possible. 

Nettie Hoge, a consumer advocate and director of the Utility Reform Network, said the absence of a watchdog director affects the ability of the office to perform its duties. 

“There’s some good people there, but there’s no coordination, no one to set priorities,” Hoge said.