For Immediate Release: December 3, 1998
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989

New Power Content Label
Protects Energy Consumers

On soup cans, cereal boxes and other food containers, consumers are used to finding labels that detail how many calories, how much fat and how much sodium their food contains. Now a similar looking label created by the California Energy Commission explains to Californians how their electricity is produced.

"Consumers already are seeing what we call the 'Power Content Label' in advertising from some electricity suppliers," said Energy Commissioner Michal (spelled correctly) Moore. "Sort of a 'nutrition label' for electricity, it also will be sent quarterly to electricity customers after the first of the year."

The new label describes the variety of resources used to generate California's electricity, such as natural gas, coal, large hydroelectric projects and nuclear plants, as well as renewable technologies. Two columns provide information allowing consumers to compare the power "content" - or resource mix - of a specific electricity product with the "California Power Mix."

"Just as a nutrition label provides information you can use as you shop for food, the power content label provides useful information when you shop for electricity. At a glance, customers can see how the electricity they purchase is created," explained Moore.

[ Power Content Label ]

Before California's electricity industry was restructured in March 1998, consumers had little use for such data. With virtually no choice in their electricity suppliers, electricity users sent their monthly check to the electric company servicing their area, such as Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric or Southern California Edison. In California's newly competitive electricity market, however, these same consumers are faced with numerous options from a number of electricity suppliers. One of the ways these companies set themselves apart is by offering consumers renewable or "green" power--electricity generated by sources like wind, solar power, biomass and waste, small hydro and geothermal plants.

"Some Californians are voluntarily paying more for 'green' power because they care about the environmental impacts of the electricity they use," Moore said. "In a sense, those consumers are 'voting' with their electricity dollars, showing their support for technology that offers such benefits as a cleaner environment and a more secure supply of power. If you're paying a premium for renewable electricity, our Power Content Label will show you if you're truly getting your money's worth."

To minimize fraudulent claims, companies that sell power that is different from the California Power Mix must undergo independent audits and report information to the Energy Commission. Violations of the Public Utilities Code may be prosecuted as misdemeanors. Those misleading the public also run the risk of being exposed by consumer protection organizations or other power companies.

"Unfortunately, an electron of electricity from a wind turbine is indistinguishable from an electron of electricity created by, say, a coal plant. After all, electricity from many different sources is all fed through the same power lines," said Moore. "But with the Power Content Label, consumers can track where their energy dollars are going. They can tell, for example, that they've paid a wind farm to generate a certain amount of electricity that went into the power grid. And over the long term, such purchasing decisions will determine what kinds of power plants are built to serve California's needs."

Information about the Power Content Label is on the Energy Commission's Web site at:

Attention Editors: To download a high quality image of the Power Content Label available in Quark Xpress, Adobe Pagemaker or Macromedia Freehand, go to: /retail_disclosure.html

(Please keep in mind this is NOT the correct address for consumer information - merely the page for the media to download a high-quality image of the label.)

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