States shun comparisons to California in light of the energycrisis

California's energy problems have inspired other states to shift

gears in public education campaigns designed to raise awareness of

electric competition.

'We're not California' is the common message being pushed in such states

as Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Illinois, which are in

various stages of enabling competition.

Ohio and Virginia are in final stages of selecting PR firms for public

education projects, with agencies expected to be chosen in the next

three weeks.

'We have had to move the issue of California vs. Texas to the front

burner, whereas before it wasn't even on the stove,' said Mike Lake,

managing director of Burson-Marsteller's Dallas office, which is

executing Texas' public education program.

Since California's woes began grabbing headlines, Lake's team has

reworked the campaign's Web site to explain why Texas shouldn't suffer

from California's problems and has provided call center operators with

talking points. Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) chairman Pat Wood

also wrote a much-published opinion piece.

Gregory S. Franklin Associates and Highpoint Communications in New

Hampshire have advised their clients, including Maryland and Ohio, to

take similar action. For a series of Ohio media briefings, the team is

adding information about how the state differs from California.

Pennsylvania has had full-fledged retail competition since last year,

and the state PUC has pushed its chairman, John Quain, to the forefront

of the issue. Quain has appeared on national newscasts and has been

quoted in major papers.

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