Oregon summit to examine California energy crisis

With pressure mounting to resolve the energy crisis in California and keep it from spreading, US Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham and Curtis Hebert, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman, are scheduled to attend an energy roundtable in Portland, Ore., Friday. The Western Governors Association is sponsoring the conference to address unprecedented problems with the price and reliability of energy supplies on the West Coast.


With pressure mounting to resolve the energy crisis in California and keep it from spreading, US Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham and Curtis Hebert, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairman, are scheduled to attend an energy roundtable in Portland, Ore., Friday.

The Western Governors Association is sponsoring the conference to address unprecedented problems with price and reliability of energy supplies on the West Coast.

In hope of containing the problem to California, the governors plan to discuss long-term strategies and coordinated solutions to increase investment in energy supplies, transportation infrastructure, and energy efficiency.

That state teetered on the edge of forced outages Tuesday for the 15th day in a row, and two of the state's biggest investor-owned utilities have defaulted on various payments.

FERC�s Hebert said he wants to ensure attempts to resolve problems of short supply and high prices in California do not damage neighboring states. Washington and Oregon's governors have expressed concern they may suffer because power generators in their states are being forced under a federal mandate to supply electricity to California. The Bush administration initially extended that order but warned it would not do so again.

A spokesman said California Gov. Gray Davis will attend. Last week Davis replaced most of the California Independent System Operator directors. Terry Winter, CEO of the ISO and a key player in the long-running efforts to keep California supplied with electricity, was due to be a speaker but has canceled.

Governors from nine western states and the president of the Navajo Nation are scheduled to attend. Also attending will be representatives from large generating companies, including Dynegy Inc. and Enron Corp., utilities such as PacifiCorp and Arizona Public Service, and oil companies, including BP.

�The roundtable will focus not only on steps needed to address the immediate crisis, but also on developing an action plan to increase the long-term supply and availability of electricity that will help maintain a robust economy for the growing West,� said Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho.

Governors of Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming have endorsed a short-term conservation strategy. Other governors are expected to endorse the strategy that includes:

� Conducting a state-by-state media campaign about the severity of the problem and the public�s responsibility to help with short-term solutions.

� Encouraging each state to develop a specific strategy to provide information to the public and to public agencies that explains how to reduce energy use.

� Encouraging utilities to establish and expand programs for electricity users to reduce nonessential use of electricity in states with shortages.

� Encouraging public agencies across the western states to conserve energy.

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