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Increased power bills not appealing to many

March 29, 2001

Deepa Bharath and Jennifer Kho

NEWPORT-MESA -- Local residents and businesses are not looking forward

to getting one thing in the mail -- their power bill.

Many know they will have to shell out up to 46% more to pay for

electricity following the California Public Utilities Commission's

unanimous approval for rate increases Tuesday.

Several people interviewed Wednesday said they are appalled and upset

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by the increase.

"I hate it," said Joyce Palmer of Corona del Mar. "They're ripping us

off."

Some like Paul Baskin of Newport Beach expressed anger.

"I'm very seriously thinking about moving to Arizona," he said. "I'm

sick of getting hoodwinked. I think the whole structure stinks . . . PUC

had absolutely no business approving that rate hike."

Some residents like Karen Hendrickson of Newport Beach are just

irritated by the lack of information.

"I wish the power company would give us a handout telling us exactly

what's going on," she said. "I don't understand the problem. I can't

figure it out. We know only what the media is telling us."

Small businesses in the community expressed concerns about power usage

and increasing costs that could make it difficult for them to operate.

Luis Salazar, owner of Luis Hair Salon in Costa Mesa, says he knows he

is going to be affected.

"We're leaving the curling irons off and we keep lights off until late

at night," he said. "We don't turn on the outside lights and signs until

it's dark and we don't use the tracking lights at all."

He is just trying to conserve as much as he can, Salazar said.

"It's terrible," he said. "I'm going to have battery-run lights

installed, just in case the lights go off. Otherwise, I'm just waiting

for the bill."

But there are some businesses that say they have little control over

how much power they expend.

"We use a lot of electrical equipment," said Lily Campos, assistant

manager at Haute Caffe in Westcliff Plaza that sells baked goods and

coffee.

"I don't like what I hear because we have the coffee pots, ovens and

coolers going here," she said. And there's little they can do about it,

Campos said.

Others said they are worried about day-to-day cost increases.

Rigoberto Del Gadillo, a Costa Mesa resident and employee at Growers

Ranch said he is worried consumer goods prices are going to go up.

"We got notice at work that the price of tortillas is going to go up

because of [the energy rate hikes]," he said. "Everything is probably

going to go up, but we'll have to wait and see how we're affected. It's

too early to tell."

There are a few, however, who have come to terms with the price hike.

"They had to do what they had to do," said Susan Barton of Newport

Beach. "It's a good opportunity to teach kids about conservation."

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