FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Contact:            Jeanne Clark

May 28, 1998                                                                                                              412/421-6072



Citizen Power Demands Public Be Heard on PUC Nominee;

Ridge, Senate Republicans Plan to Evade Hearings,

Waive Rules for Immediate Vote


Pittsburgh, May 28--David Hughes, Executive Director of Citizen Power, Inc. today denounced plans by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Senator Clarence Bell (R) to ram through Ridge's nomination of Aaron Wilson to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) with no opportunity for public input or debate.

"Something stinks about this whole process," said Hughes.  "Everything is being rushed through.  The Administration is attempting to prevent any  opportunity for the citizens to be heard.  First, Ridge — on his way out of the country so he couldn't be challenged — announced the nomination of Wilson at the beginning of a long holiday weekend.  This guaranteed that there would be little or no public awareness of the nomination.  Now we hear that the Republican leadership intends to waive the rules requiring thoughtful consideration of nominees and vote immediately, bypassing the voters altogether.

"Clearly, with this mad rush to confirm the Wilson nomination, the Governor is trying to pull a fast one,"  continued Hughes.  “Could it be that Ridge wants to reverse recent PUC decisions that, for a change, had some goodies for ratepayers?

"If, as the Governor has said, the Wilson nomination is intended to put an 'outsider's perspective' on the PUC, why is Ridge determined to hide the nomination from the real outsiders — the consumers?”

"This nomination could turn back the clock on competition, and the right of Pennsylvanians to safe, clean and affordable electricity.  It is too important to be rushed through without proper scrutiny,” said Hughes.

"We urge citizens throughout the Commonwealth to call the Governor and their State Senator and demand that they open up the coverup on this nomination.  After all, if Ridge is telling the truth and really wants the consumers represented on the PUC by this nomination, then he has nothing to hide," concluded Hughes.

Citizen Power, Inc. is a Western Pennsylvania public policy, research, education and advocacy group that fights for consumers and the environment through education and litigation. Since the legislature's middle-of-the night passage of the 1996 Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act, Citizen Power and other local organizations have represented the rights of consumers before the PUC.  The officially designated Public Interest Intervenors on the recent Duquesne Light and Allegheny Energy restructuring and merger cases include Citizen Power, the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), Mon-Valley Unemployed Committee, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Alliance for Progressive Action, Just Harvest, Pennsylvania Public Interest Group (PennPIRG) and Citizens' Organizations on Utility Policies (COUP).


- 30 -