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Decision Could Lead To Higher Light Bills For Businesses

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California power regulators are scheduled to vote on a proposal that could force thousands of California businesses to see increases in their electric bills.

The Public Utilities Commission will decide whether to bar businesses from shopping around for energy providers. The decision could conclude the state´s flawed efforts to deregulate its electricity market, which forced record rate hikes last year. Soaring electricity prices also drove the largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, into bankruptcy and triggered rolling blackouts throughout the state.

But businesses say ending consumer choice, which lawmakers predicted would lead to more competition and lower prices, will boost their energy costs and make them less competitive.