Public Policy Research Education and Advocacy



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Contact: David Hughes

October 7, 1997                                                                                                 412/421-6072





            Pittsburgh, October 7—Today, Pittsburgh City Council sent a clear message to Governor Ridge and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, that the people of Pittsburgh expect delivery on the promises being made about the benefits of electric deregulation.


City Council passed a resolution drafted by consumer and environmental watchdog Citizen Power. The resolution calls for a reduction in Duquesne Light electric bills, which are nearly 40% above the national average. Duquesne is asking the PUC for permission to keep its rates at the current level until 2005. The company says this will enable it to recoup $1.7 billion in “stranded” costs, or costs that may not be recoverable in a competitive environment. Most of this amount comes from Duquesne’s investment in the Perry 1 and Beaver Valley nuclear plants.


“Pittsburgh City Council has recognized that customer bills will not go down if the PUC bails out utilities for bad investments,” said David Hughes, executive director of Citizen Power.


The proposed merger of Duquesne Light and Allegheny Power is an example of the strategies utilities are employing to position themselves for retail competition. The companies have announced that if the merger is approved, at least 500 jobs will be lost. This resolution calls for a restructuring plan that includes provisions to help offset the impact of job loss with “retraining, placement and other support services for displaced utility workers”.


 “Council has shown real leadership by going beyond the price issue and raising concerns about the potential job loss and environmental impact associated with electric restructuring,” said Hughes.


Citizen Power hopes other municipalities in the region will enact similar resolutions. The PUC is assigned the task to implement the new competition law. An informed and involved public will be required to insure that the outcome of the PUC deliberations is fair to ratepayers.