- June 29 - Legislation to deregulate Ohios retail electricity markets,
which has been approved by the states legislature and is awaiting Gov. Bob
Tafts signature, features a ground-breaking provision to protect residential
consumers and opens the door for efforts to pass such protections at the federal
Modeled after a provision in Massachusetts' 1997 electric restructuring
law, the Ohio legislation allows cities, towns, villages and counties to work
together to purchase electric power to secure the best rates -- or buy the cleanest
electricity -- for residents and businesses. This provision, called Community
Choice, gives groups of residential consumers and small businesses the same buying
power as large industrial customers, and with it a fair chance at savings.
"Making deregulated markets truly competitive, and truly
beneficial to consumers, is not a left or right-wing proposition, as Ohio's Republican-controlled
legislature illustrated," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public
Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project. "It is simply a matter of setting
aside the special interests of entrenched monopolies and establishing new markets
that will work for everyone, including residents and small businesses. Community
Choice should be part of any federal legislation."
Municipal and county officials from more than 30 local governments
testified before the Ohio legislature, passed resolutions or signed onto letters
asking the legislature to support Community Choice.
"Now Community Choice is an apple pie issue in Ohio,"
said Matthew Patrick, an early Community Choice proponent and a local official
of Falmouth, Mass. "Few will openly oppose it, and most would like to take
credit for what is obviously a pro-consumer measure."
Said Hauter, "The bipartisan vote in Ohio reflects growing
recognition that California's each-man-for-himself deregulation model is not working
for the vast majority of consumers. More than a year after California's anti-Community
Choice law went into effect, fewer than 1 percent of consumers have switched electricity
providers. It also reflects a growing awareness by mayors and city councilors
nationally that local governments have a critical role to play in making deregulated
electricity markets responsive to residents and small businesses."