On its face, The Utility Reform Network?s initiative to roll back deregulation mischaracterizes the real intent of the measure and would wreak havoc on the state?s energy market, claims the Independent Energy Producers. ?If we have learned anything from the mistakes of 1996, it should be that rewriting complicated energy laws without the benefit of full committee hearings, expert witnesses, and full consumer input is a recipe for future energy disasters,? Jan Smutny-Jones, IEP executive director, stated in a June 20 letter to Bob Finkelstein, TURN executive director. The initiative, the Repeal of Deregulation and Blackout Avoidance Initiative, sponsored by TURN and a coalition of labor organizations, would prohibit the revival of direct access. Legislative attempts to allow new direct-access deals have failed repeatedly. Smutny-Jones said the consumer advocate?s goal was not reregulation as advertised but knocking out ?innocuous retail electricity sellers.? Thus, the bill of goods, according to Smutny-Jones, baits ?consumers with the false claim that this initiative somehow regulates the targets of your rhetoric, ?Enron? or the other independent energy producers.? He warned that if the initiative resulted in regulating independent power producers, that would amount to a legal ?takings? under the U.S. Constitution, requiring billions of dollars in compensation. Finkelstein said Smutny-Jones ?was splitting hairs to a degree that was unwarranted.? Deregulation, he said, has always been about creating opportunities for medium-size and large energy consumers to make their own electricity and gas deals. A return to the days before reregulation is impossible, Finkelstein said. Ratepayers would have to be refunded the stranded costs the investor-owned utilities collected, yank Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority, and reverse utility asset divestiture. ?It is water that?s spilled over the dam. The point is to shore up the dam and stop further damage,? Finkelstein said. The initiative qualified for the November 8 ballot this week with the signatures of 417,390 registered voters. According to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, it needed 411,198 signatures to be eligible. It contains a number of complex issues. In addition to direct access, it includes renewables and resource-adequacy standards (<i>Circuit<\/i>, June 17, 2005). It would also allow the Legislature to change flawed provisions by a two-thirds vote. Finkelstein is not concerned about voters getting lost in the elaborate initiative. ?Compared to rules for the state budget, voters have it easy,? he said.