Power problems influence commerce’s view of region | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Power problems influence commerce’s view of region

Susan Wood

More than four in 10 small-business owners said the power crisis has changed their views of California as a place to do business, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Formed in 1943, NFIB is a nonprofit small-business advocacy group, with more than 600,000 members.

In addition, just under 20 percent concurred that the problem has forced them to take concrete steps toward exploring a move out of the Golden State.

Forty-four percent of small-business owners – a fifth affected by blackouts – called California deregulation “a bad idea that should never have happened.”

Echoing a sentiment among insiders, 29 percent of these business members cited a failure to build more power plants as the main reason for the crisis.

Pacific Gas & Electric, one of two major utility companies California Gov. Gray Davis has tried to bail out of debt to maintain electricity to users, has sought to get out of the power-generation business to focus on the distribution channel. PG&E had its hydroelectric power plants appraised about a year ago in the hopes of a sell-off to other parties.

These power plants have been under attack by environmentalists trying to save the endangered and threatened fish species like Pacific Northwest salmon.

As Nevada is concerned, Gov. Kenny Guinn unveiled last week a plan designed to protect Nevadans from skyrocketing energy costs.

The Nevada Energy Protection Plan includes a conservation strategy, a proposal to accelerate the construction of new power plants and a transmission line as well as an examination of divesting utilities. Guinn, who was evaluating whether to launch Nevada into deregulation this year, halted the idea.

The Silver State’s governor also intends to work with Davis to avoid any interruption in the flow of gasoline and jet fuel inland from California. Blackouts have shut down the main gasoline pipeline, prompting concern from the California Trucking Association.

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