News Releases
Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 14, 2000
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Federal agencies join Locke in effort to cap energy prices

OLYMPIA - The federal Department of Energy and Bonneville Power Administration have endorsed Gov. Gary Locke's call for energy price caps in Western states.

Locke made the announcement today after making telephone calls to Steve Wright, BPA's acting administrator, and T. J. Glauthier, deputy secretary of the Energy Department.

"These federal officials said they would urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose wholesale energy price caps for Washington and the rest of the western United States," Locke said today.

"With these caps, we hope we can roll back these huge recent rate surcharges Washington utilities are beginning to impose. We also hope we can make sure other utilities won't be forced to raise rates so dramatically," the governor added.

Some Washington consumers currently face power surcharges as high as 100 percent as utilities scramble to find power, particularly during peak usage hours in the early morning and evening.

Locke today likened the current electricity situation to a "perfect storm" - an improbable but very real convergence of events.

Those events resulted in fast-rising prices for power and an insufficient supply of energy at any price.

Those "perfect storm" components include:

* Low rainfall needed to power hydroelectric dams
* Power plants closing down for maintenance
* Unseasonable temperatures in California that required some fossil fuel plants to operate all summer and hit their air pollution limits early
* Chaos in California from flawed deregulation where some power plants may have withheld generation to push up prices

Locke said the result in Washington has been critical businesses curtailing operations and laying off workers; curtailing programs at schools, universities and other public buildings and threatening ratepayers with huge cost increases.

The governor said he would propose legislation in the next few weeks to ensure the state has reliable, affordable power in the long term.

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