California Electricity Market:

Outlook for Summer 2001

GAO-01-870R: Published: Jun 29, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2001.

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As the electricity industry restructures, California and the west have witnessed extraordinarily high wholesale prices and sharp limitations on the availability of electricity. In California, high prices have led to financial problems for the state's utilities, power outages, and rate increases. In other Western states, the high prices have also led to rate increases for consumers. This report assesses the outlook for California's electricity supplies this summer. Because of a lack of timely direct access to key information and limitation in other data, GAO was unable to assess likely conditions in California. To make an independent, reliable assessment, GAO would need access to data underlying key supply and demand factors, such as power plant outages and electricity supplies that could be imported into California. Furthermore, forecasts of California's electricity market show stark differences in the expected conditions this summer.

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