Southern California Edison Co wants rate increase

Southern California Edison Co. is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase for utility customers effective Jan. 1, 2001. If approved, the Edison International subsidiary says the proposed increase would be less than 10%, keeping rates at 1996 levels when adjusted for inflation.


Southern California Edison Co. is asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a rate increase for utility customers effective Jan. 1, 2001. If approved, the Edison International subsidiary says the proposed increase would be less than 10%, keeping rates at 1996 levels when adjusted for inflation.

In a filing, SCE asked the commission to institute a four-point plant to restore market stability, maintain affordable customer rates, and insure reliability in the state's growing economy. The filing recommends a calendar of regulatory actions that would lead to replacing the current rate freeze with a long-term rate stabilization plan by Jan. 1, 2001.

In its filing, SCE petitioned the CPUC to take four immediate steps:

� Confirm that utilities will be permitted to recover their reasonable procurement costs incurred on behalf of customers.

� Give utilities greater freedom to contract for longer-term supplies of power, complete the review of SCE's bilateral contract proposals, and urge other agencies to work to rectify market structure problems that have become apparent.

� Implement a new rate freeze when the existing 2-year-old freeze expires, instead of the current approach that directs utilities to pass through volatile wholesale power costs.

� End the uncertainty about the disposition of remaining utility generation assets.

"We propose an immediate modest increase in customer rates to avoid the type of rate shock experienced in San Diego and southern Orange counties this past summer," said SCE Chairman Stephen Frank. "We are confident that our plan will both protect consumers and utilities, whose financial integrity is essential to continued service reliability."

Earlier, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. filed documents that said it should be allowed to pass wholesale energy costs on to its customers by spring 2001, ending a 2-year-old rate freeze.

On Oct. 4 both utilities asked state regulators for authority to recover about $4.5 billion from ratepayers at the end of the rate freeze. They claimed the freeze has kept them from recovering costs of high wholesale energy prices this summer. The utilities are barred from recouping these costs under existing state law.

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