PR agencies shed light on power crisis

NEW YORK: As the blackouts continue on the West Coast, PR agencies are being hired to illuminate the positions of the various parties in the midst of the electricity crisis.

NEW YORK: As the blackouts continue on the West Coast, PR agencies are being hired to illuminate the positions of the various parties in the midst of the electricity crisis.

NEW YORK: As the blackouts continue on the West Coast, PR agencies are being hired to illuminate the positions of the various parties in the midst of the electricity crisis.

In the government's corner is John Scanlon's Westhill Media Strategies, hired last week to advise the California State Assembly and its Democrat speaker Robert Hertzberg.

The State of California has spent dollars 400 million buying power on behalf of two utilities: Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

Scanlon has been hired for message development and is putting Hertzberg on a 'major media crawl' in New York.

He is also working alongside a Washington, DC team headed by Westhill Public Affairs president Mark Longabaugh.

'We'll be looking at ways to define what the legislature is doing in cooperation with the governor (Gray Davis),' Scanlon said. 'We want to articulate the long term strategy that will make it clear the problem is being solved on a long-term basis.'

However, at press time the assembly had yet to gain a consensus about how to proceed. It narrowly rejected a dollars 10 billion plan to let the state buy power on behalf of Edison and PG&E, according to an article in The New York Times.

A slew of other PR firms have been hired to do crisis work on behalf of other energy firms. Stoorza Communications is counseling Cal-Pine Energy, while GCI Kamer is working on a project basis for Southern Energy, renamed Mirant this month.

Also lobbying the public is the Edison Electric Institute. The association of electric utilities has begun running paid TV advertisements in Sacramento and Los Angeles calling for a solution to the crisis. While consumers say the state is wrong to bail out the utilities, the group argues that a court solution would ultimately cost consumers more.



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