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For Immediate Release: July 17, 2002
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler - (916) 654-4989

Energy Commission Plans Will Give Consumers
Greater Control Over Electricity Use

Sacramento - At its Business Meeting today, the California Energy Commission initiated a plan to work with the California Public Utilities Commission and other interested parties to improve the way electricity is measured, priced and used within the State.

A key element of the various proposals under consideration is that customers should have access to meters that show the actual costs of providing electricity. Electricity costs vary considerably from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season.

"Today's antiquated electricity meters were designed over 100 years ago," Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld noted. "They provide customers with information at the monthly frequency of the pony express. Through this cooperative effort begun today, we can move beyond simple meters to an advanced communication system delivering information at the speed of the Internet."

The program's goal is to provide all Californians within the next decade with access to advanced electricity metering systems, rate structures that reflect time-of-use rates, and technologies that allow them to respond to changing prices. An example of responsive technology is a thermostat that receives price information from the utility and can automatically raise air conditioning temperatures during times of high prices.

"Real time information on prices and reliability conditions gives consumers the ability to change their usage patterns," said Rosenfeld. "With the proper tools to respond to this information, consumers can help to moderate future price spikes and to increase service reliability."

Under the new plan, the Energy Commission will work closely with the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which recently began similar proceedings. The CPUC regulates private utilities and will focus on rates and meters, while the Energy Commission, which has some influence over municipal utilities, will focus on equipment to be installed inside buildings and controlled by customers.

"I am looking forward to working with the CPUC to help consumers fight back against excessive price increases," said Energy Commissioner Robert Pernell. "We will make sure that all customers - smaller commercial and residential customers as well as larger ones - will benefit from improvements in metering and usage control."

"It is my hope that our commissions can work together, through parallel and coordinated proceedings in this important area, to develop demand responsiveness in California," said Michael Peevey, presiding Commissioner in the CPUC's proceedings on the topic. "I view demand resources in general as tools to lower energy costs and improve the environment."

The text of orders from the both the Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission, along with the proceeding schedules, are available on the Energy Commission's website at


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