SDG&E calls for emergency summit

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. officials said Friday they have called for a state investigation into alleged market irregularities and for a Wednesday emergency summit of energy market participants. SDG&E said the meeting should include representatives from power generators, energy service providers, the California Independent System Operator, and the California Power Exchange and should explore immediate market-based solutions to the issue of high energy prices locally and throughout California.

Jul 10th, 2000


San Diego Gas & Electric Co. officials said Friday they have called for a state investigation into alleged market irregularities and for a Wednesday emergency summit of energy market participants. SDG&E said the meeting should include representatives from power generators, energy service providers, the California Independent System Operator, and the California Power Exchange and should explore immediate market-based solutions to the issue of high energy prices locally and throughout California.

The company did not describe the alleged irregularities in a statement released Friday. SDG&E was among those suupporting lowering the market cap on wholesale electricity prices in California to $250/Mw-hr from $500/Mw-hr. During an emergency meeting Thursday, the California Independent System Operator voted to retain the existing existing cap (OGJ Online, July 7, 2000).

Concurrently, the company said it will provide $100,000 or more in seed money to establish a summer energy-assistance fund for low-income residents of San Diego and southern Orange counties.

"We are extremely concerned about the impact of high electricity prices on our customers in California's emerging competitive energy marketplace," SDG&E Pres. Edwin A. Guiles said in a statement. "The idea of deregulation is to create competition in the energy market to ultimately provide new choices to consumers and drive down prices. Clearly, there are problems in the marketplace that need to be addressed�and addressed now.

"We want to provide a forum for the key market participants to develop solutions that will help drive down energy costs for our customers today."

Last year, SDG&E sold its power plants and now functions solely as an energy distribution company. For those customers who have not chosen another energy service provider, SDG&E buys electricity in the competitive market and passes that cost directly to its customers, with no markup, the company said.

Guiles said SDG&E and its parent, Sempra Energy, have earmarked $1 in corporate funding for every $4 the market participants contribute, with a minimum of $100,000 in seed money committed. SDG&E said it is seeking additional funds to finance energy-efficiency programs and has increased communications with its customers about bill-payment options and energy conservation.

Additionally, SDG&E said it is filing with the California Public Utilities Commission this month to request authorization for about $6 million in funds to provide more energy-efficiency opportunities for its customers this year, particularly those on limited incomes. For business customers, the company is advocating greater availability of funding for energy-efficiency projects that impact peak consumption periods.

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