Document:California Press Release 15 May 2001 Threats to Seize Power Plants Reckless

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14547 Titus Street, Suite 214
Panorama City, CA 91402
For immediate release: May 15, 2001
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Threats to seize power plants reckless, irresponsible, Libertarians charge

LOS ANGELES -- Recent threats by California Treasurer Phil Angelides to seize power plants if energy generators raise prices this summer are reckless, irresponsible, and can only worsen the current energy crisis, the Libertarian Party of California charged today.

In remarks made last week, Angelides, a Democrat who is up for reelection next year, said: "If the [energy] generators back us to the wall, if the federal government does not control prices, our only option might be to commandeer these plants."

"Mr. Angelides is the state's chief financial officer. For him to be making comments like these at a time when California should be encouraging energy investment is highly destructive," declared Libertarian state chair Aaron Starr. "No energy company in their right mind would do business in a state where top elected leaders are openly discussing seizing private property."

This wasn't the first time Angelides has suggested that the state government seize power plants. At the California Democratic Party's recent convention in Anaheim, Angelides issued a "warning to the out-of-state generators: If you do not take your foot off our throats . . . you may leave us no option but to [seize] your power plants."

"Mr. Angelides has no authority to seize anything, thankfully," noted Starr. "But his misguided rhetoric is damaging nonetheless. It will drive businesses away and will increase the risk of more blackouts this summer."

That risk is very real, Libertarians say, pointing to a newly released assessment by the North American Electricity Reliability Council (NERC) which states that a worst-case scenario would see 700 hours of blackouts in store this summer. That's far more than the predicted 250 hours calculated by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), the governmental agency that manages the transmission of power.

"Letting Mr. Angelides fly the California bear over seized power plants will not avoid a single minute of blackouts," Starr pointed out. "It's a desperate, inadvisable, and possibly unconstitutional alternative that should not even be considered.

"Libertarians have been saying for months: the electricity crisis can only be alleviated if government gets out of the way once and for all. But as long as elected officials like Phil Angelides insist on shifting the blame and making unwise remarks, this crisis will continue to hurt the consumers and taxpayers of California," Starr concluded.