WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has imposed price controls on wholesale electricity throughout the Western states. Calling it a plan that is “good for the entire West,” chairman Curt L. HÃ©bert Jr. said, “It represents an effort to provide some relief now, while making sure that mitigation is short-lived.”
In a unanimous vote, the commission expanded its price mitigation plan for California spot market sales during power emergencies to now apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The curbs on prices in the spot electric markets were also broadened to cover the entire 11-state Western region, stretching from Washington down to New Mexico. FERC had been under pressure to do something about electricity prices in the West, which had skyrocketed to 10 times the level of 1999.
“The commission’s goal remains to fix dysfunctional markets and to ensure that markets regain their competitive footing as quickly as possible,” said HÃ©bert.
California Governor Gray Davis said the move is “a step in the right direction.” But he added, “Californians have been overcharged billions of dollars for electricity. To date, they have received one cent in refunds.”