Republican News

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Frank H. Murkowksi (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee released the following opening statement at a hearing this morning on legislation that would impose price controls on wholesale electricity in fourteen Western states. “California’s problem is lack of generation, not lack of regulation. California bet that it could stop building new powerplants, and instead, import power from out-of-state generators. They lost that bet. It worked for a short time until demand grew beyond the available out-of-state supply. Now California faces brownouts and blackouts this summer. “This problem did not happen over night. These shortages have been evident for years and California and the FERC, under the previous Administration just stuck their head in the sand, hoping the problem would magically go away. “To some, price controls are the only answer. But a control never spun a turbine, never generated a watt, and never prevented a blackout. Price controls don’t build power plants, and they don’t encourage conservation. Price controls can be a shell game where the blame is shifted, true costs are masked and production incentives are erased. “What more do we need to hear before we are convinced that we need the supply necessary to meet the demand? If there is a milk shortage, you bring in more cows, you don’t put price controls on the milk. “I support conservation because it can help, but it cannot do the job alone. If conservation was the only answer, California, the second most energy efficient state in the Union, would be swimming in energy. We must conserve, but we also must have adequate supplies. “FERC’s April order appears to be working. Since it took effect, spot market prices have steadily declined on the California open market. By expanding this order yesterday, FERC has taken another positive step forward in addressing California’s and the West’s on-going crisis. These measures should be allowed to work without political interference. “California is a warning sign for the rest of the country. To get us out of this energy crisis and keep us out, we need a comprehensive, national energy strategy. That plan must use our technology and ingenuity to boost conservation, develop new alternatives, and increase domestic production. Only then will we be firmly on a course to stability.” ###