August 31, 2005

Schwarzenegger to try again on Calif. energy plan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger on Wednesday reintroduced legislation to set up
a cabinet-level Department of Energy to reorganize the state's
energy agencies.

The measure would revise an energy reorganization plan that
was rejected in the state Senate last week.

The new bill aims to clear up questions about the authority
of the California Public Utilities Commission and potential
conflicts of interest raised by the state Attorney General.

The new energy department would consolidate the state's
Energy Commission, Power Authority, Electricity Oversight Board
and an Energy Resources Scheduling Division within the
Department of Water Resources.

Among the revisions from the earlier proposal, the energy
secretary would be a member of a new energy commission but no
longer chairman.

The siting of new power transmission lines would be
transferred from the CPUC to the new commission, while the
measure would clarify the CPUC's authority to approve a cost
cap for transmission projects.

The CPUC also would continue to set energy rates charged by
the state's investor-owned utilities.

Schwarzenegger said in a statement that power blackouts in
Southern California on August 25 "should be a wake-up call to
us all that more generation and more transmission are badly
needed and this reform will help achieve those goals."