Feinstein presses legislation for price caps to ease power crisis
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- In an effort to ease California's power crisis, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is drafting legislation aimed at forcing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to impose regional wholesale price caps on electricity, CNN has learned.
The increase in the cost of wholesale electricity on the spot market has largely fueled the current crisis and threatens California's two largest investor-owned utility companies with bankruptcy.
Despite repeated efforts by a host of California politicians, FERC has balked at imposing regional price caps.
But Feinstein believes she has "good support" for the measure in the U.S. Senate, said Jim Hock, her press secretary.
Hock said the legislation would establish regional price caps in 11 Western states, but would allow FERC to set "reasonable rates of return for power suppliers" as an alternative to the caps.
The measure, to be introduced into Congress after it reconvenes January 22, would permit governors to opt out of any price caps. Hock said it enjoys bipartisan support in the House, where it is backed by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.
But Feinstein hopes FERC will take action before Congress reconvenes,