Energy chief: Electricity crisis looms
Richardson: U.S. should encourage modernization
By Kevin Flynn
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer, October 11, 2000
There will be a crisis in the nation's electrical
supply system within five years if the federal government
doesn't encourage the private sector to modernize,
U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said in Denver
Stumping for Vice President Al Gore's presidential
campaign, Richardson told a group of 29 senior citizens
at Windsor Gardens that Gore advocates deregulation
of the electrical industry to promote start-up companies,
alternative suppliers and investment in new technology.
Richardson, a former New Mexico congressman, said
the electricity grid is out of date, while the country
keeps gobbling up more wattage.
"A lot of utilities and power companies have not
been investing in modernizing their facilities," he
He said Gore would support development of alternative
energy sources. The Energy Department oversees the
National Renewable Energy Lab, which researches such
sources of energy as solar- and wind-generated electricity.
Gore supports tax credits for home upgrades to solar
power and research into more efficient automobile
engines, Richardson said.
"In the next two years, energy is going to be one
of the top issues in the country," he told the group.
Fueled by a predicted shortage of home heating oil
in the Northeast, Richardson backed President Clinton's
release of 30 million barrels of crude oil from the
nation's strategic reserves to try to stabilize the
Richardson said that the price of oil still hasn't
stabilized, although it has dropped somewhat.
"What you've seen in the last week is a gradual
reduction in crude oil prices," he said. The price
is around $31 a barrel, down from $37, and Richardson
said the Clinton Administration would like to see
it fall to between $20 and $25.
Gore's opponent, Republican George W. Bush, has
criticized Clinton's move as politically motivated.
Bush's platform calls for more domestic production
and more cooperation with Mexico and Canada to develop
North American petroleum resources.
Bush advocates creation of a reserve of petroleum
specifically for the Northeast, where there is a greater
reliance on heating oil than in other regions, instead
of pulling crude from the nation's overall reserves.