San Diego Business Journal Women Business Owners Receive
A Bidding Break

Businesses are having mixed feelings about a new state law that will allow the state to buy electricity through long-term contracts.

Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, expressed relief Feb. 2 that lawmakers enacted Assembly Bill 1X, a bill permitting the state to issue revenue bonds allowing the state to negotiate long-term electricity contracts with energy providers.

These contracts , at a cost of $10 billion , will help lower the purchase price of wholesale electricity, he said.

"Without AB-1X, the state would be spending an estimated $40 million to $50 million a day purchasing energy on the highly volatile spot market at the highest possible prices. We need lower prices and stability and AB-1X provides for both," Zaremberg said.

Revenue bonds will provide the funding stream the state needs to contract for lower electricity prices over the long term, rather than forcing the state to continue what it is doing today , purchasing power daily at premium prices. This will allow potential rate increases to be spread over a longer period and prevent price spikes, he said.

Zaremberg noted this is the first in a series of efforts to align wholesale prices with retail prices, and that could lead to rate increases. The good news is it will help prevent the state from falling into a bankruptcy situation similar to that which has plagued the investor-owned utilities.

The bad news is that if there is a rate increase, it would be disproportionately borne by the business community. It also would interfere with the ability of a business to contract directly with energy providers for power, or to generate its own power needs.

"Long-term contracts are an important first step toward resolving California's energy crisis, but we are a long way from being done here. California still will need to deal with the enormous imbalance between energy supply and demand that lies at the root of the crisis," he said.

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Shortcut For Businesswomen: A program to help women business owners compete for contracts at a national level has debuted in California.

The California chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners signed an agreement Jan. 30 with the National Women's Business Owners Corp. to conduct on-site inspections of women-owned businesses in California. The inspections will help certify the business is woman-owned and woman-controlled.

"This certification program gives women business owners access to bidding on and winning large-scale contracts with major corporations and government entities to increase bottom line results," said Cristi Cristich, president of the California branch of NAWBO.

The certification program replaced the multiple certifications required by many public and private sector agencies, eliminating redundant certification reviews and making it easier to do business with corporations and governments, she said.

It marks the first time a standard certification process exists for businesses owned and controlled by women. More than 200 private and public agencies, such as AT & T;, Universal Studios, Bank of America and Marriott Corp., already accept the certification, Cristich said.

Opportunities In Middle East: An El Cajon-based company is expanding into Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

World Transport Authority, Inc. announced it has signed a letter of intent with Magellan One, LLC, for a master license to produce its WorldStar utility vehicle there. The letter of intent provides 90 days for both parties to perform due diligence and construct a business plan for the exploitation of these markets, coming to an agreement on the master license by April 21.

The deal is worth about $3 million , a figure based on the population of the territory as well as the current number of vehicles being sold there. Currently there are about 25 million people in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

WTA's business model is to sell licenses for automakers to build its inexpensive, rugged utility vehicle for Third World nations.

The company's press material says that since the vehicle is designed specifically for those markets, the WorldStar could have an economic impact there similar to what the Ford Model T did in the United States and the Volkswagen Beetle did in Europe.

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Good Grades Equals Cash: Chula Vista Center is recognizing area youth through a new program called Outstanding Student of the Month.

The program will reward the efforts and citizenship of two Chula Vista Middle School students each month , one girl and one boy. The program is designed to support Chula Vista Middle School's efforts to educate and inspire area youth as part of the mall's commitment to the community, said Susan Lipp, marketing manager for Chula Vista Center.

The inaugural recipients of the award are Bernice Vargas and Josue Toro, eighth-graders at the school. The School Site Council selected the two students, she said.

Both students will be recognized at a ceremony in the mall Feb. 17, when they are awarded $250 in mall gift certificates. Families of the students, faculty of Chula Vista Middle School and mall merchants will be present at the ceremony, Lipp said.

Lipp added the monthly ceremony follows last year's "rejuvenation campaign" to provide needed items to the school after a fire destroyed 11 classrooms and the cafeteria. The new program continues the relationship with the school, just one block from the mall.

Send small business and retail news to Zion at lzion@sdbj.com.