Starting January 1, 1998, California's electricity industry opens to competition, and the company providing electricity must inform its consumers of energy sources.
The California Energy Commission, under SB 1305 authored by Senator Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto), is given the lead in helping consumers understand the mix of electricity sold by retailers doing business in California.
The bill, signed into law by Governor Wilson on October 8, 1997, requires electricity retailers to inform consumers about the energy sources of the electricity they are selling. At a minimum, retailers must describe to consumers what sources comprise the statewide power mix. Retailers claiming to sell electricity from specific sources must disclose the source types to consumers and must be able to verify this information.
Electricity retailers must present this information to consumers in a format that allows consumers to compare the variety of electricity products offered to them. This format, which could be described as a power content label for electricity, may look much like a "nutrition label" on food products.
The Energy Commission expects that some consumers may want to purchase "green power," or electricity generated from renewable sources, perhaps even at a premium price."With SB 1305, consumers will be able to choose renewable electricity and have confidence that they will get what they pay for," stated Energy Commissioner Michal Moore."Combined with the renewable programs funded through the Energy Commission, the state of California will move toward the first fully competitive renewable market in the nation."
SB 1305 also gives the Energy Commission the authority to verify claims made by electricity retailers. This legislation insures that consumers are provided with accurate and credible information that will help them choose among the electricity products offered.
"The Energy Commission, environmental organizations and consumer groups worked hard on this legislation to ensure that the public has adequate information to make informed choices in selecting their electricity provider," commented Energy Commission Chairman William Keese."As we head toward the January 1, 1998 date to deregulate the electricity industry, we should focus on the electricity customer's need for timely, accurate information."
SB 1305 also requires electricity generators to provide generation and fuel type information to electricity system regulators. This, along with information from electricity retailers, will allow the Energy Commission to analyze information disclosed to consumers and verify that claims have been accurate. In addition, the Energy Commission, in conjunction with the Air Resources Board and affected air districts, is required to provide the Legislature with a report on air emission effects of electric deregulation by June 1, 1999.
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