Lawmakers are racing to stop the state Department of Water Resources from renegotiating any power purchase agreements without California Public Utilities Commission oversight. To protect against potentially higher power costs, a Senate panel approved a bill to require the CPUC to conduct reasonableness reviews of any contract changes effective immediately upon enactment. The CPUC would have 60 days to complete the reviews. AB 3058, authored by the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, sailed through the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee on an 8-0 vote June 17. It earlier passed the Assembly by a vote of 75 to 1. \u201cMy concern is to protect the ratepayers of California,\u201d said Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), committee chair. The measure comes in response to DWR\u2019s renegotiation late last year of a power purchase agreement with Calpine. Under that deal, the company was released from having to provide 800 MW of power to DWR, which has been passed on to Pacific Gas & Electric customers. Calpine, though, still is required to provide 180 MW of peak power. The change left PG&E scrambling to buy replacement power at a reportedly added cost of more than $200 million to its ratepayers. \u201cSend DWR a message: Just not acceptable,\u201d said Senator Dave Cox (R-Jackson). \u201cWe like this bill from the perspective it does put a little sunshine in the process,\u201d a PG&E representative told the Senate panel. Legislators are concerned that DWR now may move to renegotiate up to 25 other power contracts it entered in the midst of the state\u2019s 2000-01 power crisis. At that time, the Legislature authorized the department to become the power buyer of last resort for state ratepayers when investor owned utilities were broke and considered bad credit risks. The department negotiated a number of long-term contracts to supply the utilities with power to serve their customers. The department bought the power with the proceeds from bonds the state issued, which are being paid off by surcharges added to utility customer power bills. The department indicated that it is interested in relinquishing the power contracts, which begin to expire in 2009, now that the electricity market has stabilized. However, stung by the department\u2019s first contract downsizing effort, lawmakers are trying to head off any more renegotiations that could be expensive to ratepayers. CPUC president Mike Peevey stated \u201cwe are focusing on how the Department of Water Resources can exit the power business and under what conditions.\u201d The department\u2019s exit could pave the way for a return of direct access, under which utility customers can chose their own power generators.