CALIFORNIA TO CONSIDER NINE-POINT ENERGY PLAN

Byline: Kristin Young

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gray Davis endorsed a nine-point plan Friday to quell California’s energy crisis, one day after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned it could harm the U.S. economy.
The crisis here is threatening to put several textile firms out of business because of quadrupling energy costs. Many of the state’s largest retailers have endured rolling blackouts, mostly in Northern California, and remained on stage-three alerts — meaning energy reserves are running less than 1.5 percent — over the weekend.
Details of Davis’s bi-partisan plan have yet to be worked out but Democrat and Republican representatives alike say it is the state’s best hope to halt the crisis.
Lawmakers are expected to pass certain portions of the plan today.
The proposal would give the state its own power authority, provide much-needed funds to beleaguered Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, and in exchange give taxpayers an ownership stake in the companies through what amounts to stock options.
Davis backed off his earlier insistence that utility rate hikes would not be part of the equation.
In other news, businesses were relieved that Southern California Edison suspended its interruptible rate program for 1,400 industrial users. Under the program, businesses agreed to have power interrupted in exchange for discounted utility rates. But with the suspension, blackouts could hit Southern California too, say experts.
Finally, despite Greenspan’s comments last week, economists here are optimistic that the crisis won’t cripple the state economy — provided, of course, that lawmakers come up with a viable short-term solution.

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