HIGHTOWER: Electric Rage

Grab your flyswatter, because in Congress and in many state capitols these days, there's a new buzzword: "Electric Utility deregulation.""Deregulation" might sound good, but utility company lobbyists are trying to use the word as a cover so utilities can swarm your and my wallets.One especially nasty provision in their de-reg legislation would make us ratepayers bail out the utilities for stupid management decisions they made in the '60s and '70s, when they went on a nuclear power-plant building binge. Those nukes ended-up as environmental and financial disasters, so now the utilities want to sock us with the tab for their white elephants. They're asking lawmakers to require us consumers to pay billions to the electric companies for what they euphemistically call "stranded costs."Hey, when Bubba's Bargain Barn on Main Street makes a management blunder, Bubba doesn't get to nail his customers with his "stranded costs" -- and neither should the utilities.Besides, these giants don't need a bailout. Texas Utilities, for example, is so cash rich it's been buying other utilities in California, England and Australia -- yet now it wants consumers to write them a billion-dollar "stranded cost" check to cover their bad investments. Utility companies would use their multibillion-dollar bailout to buy-up even more of their competitors, leaving us with less competition. So, in the name of deregulation, the industry's bills would force us to subsidize monopolization. They get the goldmine ... we get the shaft.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Public Citizen has organized a coalition to stop their greed, and to push for true deregulation that would bring us cheaper power produced by environmentally-sound, alternative sources. The coalition is called RAGE -- Ratepayers for Affordable Green Electricity. Call RAGE at 202-546-4996, ext. 323.

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