Curt L.Hebert Jr., the FERC chairman, told reporters on Feb. 8, "This is primarily a California problem" and added that state officials "cannot rely on federal bailout or intervention."

Hebert said he opposes a cap on electric rates in California. He said that price caps "are a systemic problem" that could spread to other states. "Before long we have national price caps and we have destroyed an industry." He advocates sending "price signals" that would encourage state residents to conserve power or seek alternate power sources

He did say that FERC may not have been blameless in California's crisis. "Maybe FERC could have stepped in earlier," he said. Hebert was sympathetic to major utilities in the state that are in serious financial trouble, saying, "Bankruptcy must be avoided at all costs."

He also said infrastructure expansion should be promoted, through such means as the process for certifying natural gas pipelines. He also said that the process for relicensing hydroelectric faciliites "must be expedited when and where possible" and that alternate energy sources need to be developed, including nuclear power.

s California tries to work its way out of its electric power crisis, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the federal government won't provide the state with major short-term assistance. He reiterated his strong opposition to caps on electric rates in California, fearing such limits could spread to other parts of the country.