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"Barlean asks Locke, Gregoire to protect state’s energy supply"

"During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Rep. Kelly Barlean (R-Langley) called upon Gov. Gary Locke and Attorney General Christine Gregoire to use a 1964 law to keep Northwest electric power in Washington state.Along with Rep. Richard DeBolt (R-Centralia), Barlean asked Gregoire to force the Bonneville Power Association to serve the power needs of Washington and other Northwest states before sending power to California, which is in the midst of an energy crisis. At present, BPA’s hydroelectric facilities are not producing as much power as usual due to low water reservoirs.Barlean said the power being shunted off to California is causing Washington electric rates to rise and is forcing state utilities to fire up additional generators that pollute Washington air. California rate payers, he said, have yet to receive a large increase in their bills, while the state’s utilities have not yet bothered to start their polluting generators.“The more I learned about this energy crisis, the madder I got,” Barlean said Friday in the aftermath of his press conference.Barlean and DeBolt also asked Gregoire to file suit against California to pay for extra environmental and consumer costs brought on by the crisis. Barlean said California is to blame for the crisis because its legislature passed the faulty utility deregulation laws that spawned the recent electricity shortage. He also contends that consumer fraud and collusion between California electricity generators are to blame.Both Republicans and Democrats in the Washington Legislature want Gov. Locke to take a stronger stand on the power issue. Barlean said Washington has been “sucker punched” by its southern neighbor and his constituents are tired of watching Locke search for a Band-Aid for California’s problems before hitting back.“What the (heck) makes California’s air so special?” he said.Barlean said legislators from both parties are prepared to increase pressure on Locke and Gregoire to stop the BPA from sending Washington’s power south. "

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