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Rate Hike Money To Go To Power Companies

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California power regulators have voted to consider using money from electric rates to pay past power debts.

This would mark a significant change since lawmakers said money raised by the record rate hikes of 2001 was supposed to pay for future power costs. The change would allow the Public Utilities Commission to help two major utilities climb out of debt.

California officials want to help Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison get back in the black so the pair can buy electricity without the state´s help.

But consumer advocates say any extra money left over from rate hikes should go back in the pockets of consumers. Groups including The Utility Reform Network say it´s unfair to change the rules after the money already was collected.