Assembly speaker Fabian N??ez (D-Los Angeles) has bumped the lead author of rival direct-access, core-noncore legislation from a committee reviewing both his and a competing bill. He also placed a former Southern California Edison employee on the committee. Both N??ez?s legislation, AB 2006?which Edison aggressively lobbied for and was instrumental in crafting?and rival measure AB 428 lay out strategies to establish a core-noncore market split for direct access to nonutility electricity providers. Cleaning house is not uncommon for incoming politicians. The recently appointed N??ez replaced both Democratic and Republican members of the Utilities and Commerce Committee and reshuffled other committees. Still, Dan Pellissier, chief of staff for Keith Richman, who coauthored AB 428, intimated that the speaker?s primary motive for the move, announced March 19, is self-interest. ?N??ez appears to have stacked the committee with supporters of his own bill,? Pellissier said. If ?their thought process is that this was done to facilitate our bill, that?s just not the case,? said Arnie Sowell, policy director for N??ez. Sowell noted that the speaker, in his acceptance speech, promoted reducing committee size, in part to free up Assemblymembers to focus on certain issues. New committee member Russ Bogh (R-Beaumont) defended his appointment and his background as an Edison local government public relations staffer. ?My history with Edison gives me insight with deregulation that most people don?t have,? Bogh said. ?Too many legislators have no background in energy, and that results in bad policy,? he added. Bogh said he has not always supported Edison as a legislator, saying he voted against the bailout bill for the utility. The Assemblymember?s tenure at Edison ran from 1996 until 2001, shortly before his election. Bogh said he would ?not necessarily support? the N??ez bill and that both measures have provisions attractive to him that split the direct-access market into a noncore market?for large users who could access electricity from providers other than investor-owned utilities?and a core market for small customers bound to utility service. Another N??ez pick for the committee, Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks), is coauthor of AB 2006, a signal of his stamp of approval for that measure. When it comes down to the provisions of the dueling bills, Pellissier said the provision of AB 2006 requiring utility customers to give five years? notice before switching to direct access is a ?poison pill? for core-noncore. Richman?s bill, which was coauthored by Joseph Canciamilla (D-Martinez), would require customers to give one year?s notice. The five-year notice requirement is a ?hang-up? that needs to be ironed out, Bogh conceded. Unlike the speaker?s bill, which sets a 500 kW threshold for customers to obtain noncore direct-access service, AB 428 would allow direct-access customers to aggregate load from multiple locations or meters to make the switch to noncore. Giving customers flexibility to aggregate load and cutting out the five-year notice requirement make AB 428 more favorable than N??ez?s bill backed by Edison, according to Dan Douglass, an attorney representing direct-access providers and customers. In contrast to Edison?s clear endorsement of the N??ez bill, Pacific Gas & Electric has given it a lukewarm response, saying that more legislation is not likely needed to cure market ills. San Diego Gas & Electric said that it is ?curiously and aggressively evaluating both bills? but hasn?t yet taken a position. Besides core-noncore provisions, Richman is working on an amendment to AB 428 that would order the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct an overhaul of utility costs, with an eye on resetting rates. This hasn?t been done since 1996, Pellissier said. Preventing cost shifting from one customer class to another is an important goal, but for this to be done, costs need to be allocated properly and fairly in the first place, he said. AB 2006 is set for an informational hearing on April 16. AB 428, which made it out of the Assembly last year but stalled in the Senate, faces a June 25 deadline to be heard in policy committee. Though Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been preoccupied with workers? compensation matters, he has been getting updates on AB 428 and ?still maintains his support of customer choice,? according to Pellissier.