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Much to the dismay of Californians, two large utility companies, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison Company, have been granted consumer rate increases for the price of electricity. This rate hike will affect over ten million California residents who have already endured more than 30 power alerts since June including threats of state-wide rolling blackouts. The deregulation of power prices in California has led to soaring wholesale costs for electricity and frozen customer prices, creating $8 million in combined losses for these two companies. The price for power in the West skyrocketed to $1,400 per megawatt hour, as compared to $35 per megawatt hour at this time last year. Meanwhile, US Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson extended an emergency order which forces marketers and generators with access power to provide electricity to California. Richardson blamed the power shortage on the booming technology industry which has caused electricity use in California to rise thirteen percent and energy use throughout the US to increase by fourteen percent in the past year. Although the consumer price increases have not been determined, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has suggested a seventeen percent increase, which would raise the average monthly electricity bill in California from $54 to $63.
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