The Independent Energy Producers and the California Retailers Association sued June 29 to remove The Utility Reform Network?s partial reregulation initiative from the November ballot. IEP and the retailers seek immediate relief in California?s Third District Court of Appeal (<i>CO50115<\/i>). The court has the discretion to take up the matter directed at the secretary of state so ?it is not a slam dunk,? said Richard Martland of Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, representing IEP and the retailers. TURN?s proposal, the Repeal of Electricity Deregulation and Blackout Prevention Act, ?is void on its face because it seeks to amend through a statutory initiative the ?plenary power? conferred by the Constitution on the Legislature over the jurisdiction? of the California Public Utilities Commission, IEP and the retailers stated in a writ. The initiative, also sponsored by some labor organizations, seeks to put independent power producers under CPUC authority and prohibit restoration of direct access. The lawsuit invoked the same argument the Little Hoover Commission used last week in an attempt to nix the governor?s energy agency reorganization plan: that CPUC authority is protected by the state constitution and generally can only be altered by the Legislature (<i>Circuit<\/i>, June 24, 2005). However, one of the matters deals with the governor?s power, while the other is a voter initiative. ?They are loosely similar,? Martland said. The suit also alleges that the initiative, as drafted, would prohibit investor-owned utilities from signing contracts with independent power producers because it mixes up the definitions of ?electrical corporation? and ?public utilities.? ?Your arguments simply ignore the plain language of the initiative,? said Bob Finkelstein, TURN?s executive director, in a June 29 letter to Jan Smutny-Jones, IEP?s executive director. The initiative ?specifically affirms the intent to continue relying on independent generators.? ?In the face of such an explicit statement of intent, your latest rant smacks of paranoia or desperation,? Finkelstein added. His letter, sent shortly after the suit was filed, was in response to Smutny-Jones?s letter sent last week contending that the initiative was ?misleading.? TURN?s initiative would need another 250,000 signatures to qualify as a constitutional rather than a statutory amendment, according to IEP. If the suit is successful, TURN would be required to start the process all over again and seek a slot on next year?s June or November ballot.