THE NEW ENERGY CRUNCH
It is frightening to know that the U.S., a nation of world stature and technical knowledge, is suffering serious power shortages [BUSINESS, Jan. 29]. California looks like a Third World nation when it comes to power generation and management. I am a moderate environmentalist, but I fear that extreme activists opposing additional power plants are putting their personal ambitions and beliefs above the needs of the people. We must fight pollution, but we can't ignore the growing need for electric power. WILLIAM DIXON San Jose, Calif.
Contrary to your report, blueprints for generators do not keep gathering dust while California's energy crisis deepens. Since April 1999, the state has licensed nine major power-plant projects with a combined generation capacity of 6,278 MW. Six of those plants are under construction and should be adding 2,412 MW to the power grid by the end of this year. An additional 14 electricity-generating projects are in the licensing process. A critic's charge that California has a "very cumbersome siting process" for power plants is also dead wrong. The state has a streamlined, one-stop system. The record shows that California's environmental laws are not so stringent nor is the process so cumbersome that power plants cannot be quickly licensed. STEVE LARSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR California Energy Commission Sacramento, Calif.
California tried to get something for nothing. Where else would people believe you can deregulate in a way that prices can only go down? Not building new power plants while energy needs kept growing laid the groundwork for a crisis. Now Californians are crying for federal help. The obvious solution is to let the free market rule; let prices rise. If it results in consumers' being forced to make the economic choice of either buying power or buying gas so that they can idle in their SUVs on clogged freeways, so be it. Perhaps as Californians sit in the dark, they will obtain the wisdom to completely understand the free market. THOMAS R. POLACEK Radnor, Pa.
The Governors of Washington and Oregon asked their citizens to reduce consumption 10% to help out. The results were immediate. Yet Californians were slow to respond to conservation calls. It tempts an Oregonian to turn on every light and appliance in the house just to see the impact on California. Of course, I could not afford to do that with the increased rates brought about by California's arrogance. WADE ANDERSON Woodburn, Ore.
Will the last business to leave California please blow out the candles? ROBERT H. ELSNER Belvedere, Calif.
If any population deserves to be unplugged, it's California's. If your car was running out of gas, you would probably have the smarts to put some more gas in the tank. Only Californians would think they could indefinitely increase their demand for electricity without building the plants to generate it. BRUCE HUDDLESTON Kailua, Hawaii
Wouldn't we save a lot of kilowatts by not illuminating all those unsightly billboards across the state? PATRICIA JEAN ZOTTARELLI Huntington Beach, Calif.