Electricity Deregulation Bill Draws Praise, Criticism

The Clinton Administration's long-awaited electricity deregulation bill introduced Apr. 15 is drawing mixed reaction from both consumers and distributors of electricity. Although calling the measure "a very positive step" toward nationwide customer choice in buying electricity, John A. Anderson, executive director of the Electricity Consumers Resource Council, an organization of large industrial users of electricity, criticizes costly environmental-protection provisions in the bill. Similarly, Thomas R. Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade group of investor-owned electric utilities, praises parts of the measure but is "deeply troubled" by its proposed new regulatory and environmental burdens. "In many respects," he says, "this bill amounts to 're-regulation' and not deregulation. Robert K. Johnson, executive director of the Electric Consumers Alliance, which represents residential and small-business consumers, says that "Washington should be listening to the states, rather than dictating to them. A centralized-planning approach from Washington is less appropriate than a carefully judged state-by-state approach."

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