ENERGY: Leaning on the Consumer

We are accepting this proposal for one reason only: necessity. We see no alternative means for assuring an adequate supply of natural gas for California.

With those words, the California Public Utilities Commission this month approved a novel scheme for financing natural-gas production. Essentially, the plan forces the consumer to bear a large part of the cost of developing new gas supplies—without complete assurance that he or she will ever get any of the gas.

As the commission noted, the deal was negotiated out of desperation by Southern California Gas Co. (SoCal Gas), which is urgently searching for new sources to...

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