December 24, 1997 in Nation/World

Power Competition Launch Postponed

From Staff And Wire Reports

California is unable to meet a New Year’s Day target to open the state’s electric service to competition, a delay that could be costly for ratepayers and dozens of companies that already have signed up customers.

The price tag is estimated at $400,000 a day to work out computer glitches and finish training workers, officials said Tuesday. It is expected to take weeks, if not months, before consumers and businesses will be able to buy energy from providers other than their utilities.

Officials announced late Monday that they would not be able to meet the Jan. 1 deadline. A major problem is that computers running the state’s transmission grid could not communicate properly with those controlling the market where electricity will be bought and sold.

“We still don’t see a fatal flaw, but the number of things that had to go right, the number of things that had to be sequenced, in the end, overwhelmed us,” said Dennis Loughridge, chief executive of the California Power Exchange.

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