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Electricity Restructuring News Conference

Carol M. Browner, Administrator Environmental Protection Agency Remarks Prepared for Delivery Electricity Restructuring News Conference
                        Washington, D.C.
                         April 15, 1999
     We speak a lot about building a bridge to the 21st Century. But that bridge won't mean much unless there is a power line strung right along side it.

     And that's what we're here to talk about today -- powering the new century with a new energy plan that uses resources more efficiently, cuts electric bills for consumers and businesses and still protects our health and environment.

     The best thing is, this 21st Century vision is based on a solid 18th Century idea -- Adam Smith's invisible hand of informed consumers buying in a competitive market. We believe informed consumers will make decisions that are good for both their budgets and the environment.

     President Clinton and Vice President Gore have proposed an ambitious electricity restructuring plan for the new millennium. If enacted, this legislation promises that by the year 2004, virtually all consumers will be able to choose their electric company.

     We estimate competition could save consumers $20 billion a year. For a family of four, that's a savings of about $230 a year that can go towards school supplies instead of power supplies.

     But we also estimate that this plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60 million tons in 2010. To put that number in perspective, that's the equivalent of the pollution we would expect from the crude oil contained in 273 fully loaded supertankers.

     These reductions will come not only from increased efficiency, innovative power distribution techniques, but also a burgeoning market for the clean energy the public wants.

     This package takes yet another step for the public's right to know. Just as this administration has given citizens more information about what is in their drinking water, and about toxic releases from local industries -- we are now giving them information about where their power comes from and how much pollution it is generating. With this information, people can make informed decisions when choosing an energy company and take actions themselves to cut energy use, reduce pollution and save money.

     We see a trend around the country that when consumers are informed about the pollution effects of their energy use, some of them will choose to get their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal or biomass.

     To ensure renewable energy is an option available to consumers, the bill would also establish a renewable portfolio standard to guarantee that by the year 2010, at least 7.5 percent of all electricity sold comes these sources. That's more than triple what it is today. A company that could not meet that target would be allowed to purchase credits from those that exceed the goal.

     With this restructuring in place, that invisible hand of informed consumers can help change the make up of the electric generating market and go far in protecting our health and environment.

     This electricity restructuring plan is good for both our natural environment and the business environment. And together that means not just healthier families in the 21st Century, but prosperous ones as well.