An initiative that would reregulate the energy business is expected to be on the special November 8 election ballot that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced June 13. The Repeal of Deregulation and Blackout Avoidance Initiative would put independent power producers under regulation by the California Public Utilities Commission. Proponents?The Utility Reform Network and unions representing teachers, firefighters, and prison guards, among others?claim the initiative would prevent future blackouts, replace deregulation with cost-based regulation, and restore utilities? obligation to serve. They add that the measure would further commit California to dramatically increasing its reliance on renewable energy. ?This initiative simply says ?Never again!? It is time for the state to correct past errors and build a future of lower rates, stable markets, and more renewable energy sources,? stated Bob Finkelstein, TURN executive director. ?We have seen what happens when corporate crooks like Ken Lay are allowed to dictate public policy. We need to take our energy future out of the hands of the special interests and put it back in the hands of the people.? ?It?s an attempt to give the governor a political wedgie,? Jan Smutny-Jones, Independent Energy Producers executive director, responded. Smutny-Jones said the ballot measure has mostly to do with politics and would do ?absolutely nothing to prevent what went on? during the energy crisis but instead would ?create an unstable market.? Independent power plant developers chafe at the initiative?s plan to put them under state regulation. ?In the last 20 years, we have added generation because we?re not regulated,? Smutny-Jones said. However, if regulators allowed them the same rate of return on their investments as utilities?now about 11 percent?it would be food for thought, he added. In addition to putting nonutility power producers under the state?s regulatory authority, the measure would prohibit direct-access customers from returning to a utility?s service once they have left, except for community aggregators. It would leapfrog current legislative efforts to accelerate the renewables portfolio standard from 2017 to 2010. According to TURN, it also would help the environment because ?efficiency programs will be pursued before new power plants are built.? As of the first quarter of this year, contributions to the initiative included $500,000 from the California Teachers Association; $500,000 from the Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees? AFL-CIO; $450,000 from the State Council of Service Employees; $450,000 from the Service Employees International Union; and smaller contributions from other unions. At the end of March, the initiative proponents commanded a campaign war chest totaling about $3.5 million. The campaign spent nearly $1.4 million circulating petitions, $381,000 on polling, and $125,000 on campaign consultants. TURN has yet to receive or spend any money on the initiative, according to spokesperson Mindy Spatt. Southern California Edison, which strongly supports reregulation and is the state?s most politically active utility, is currently neutral on the initiative, according to spokesperson Gil Alexander.