California came several years late to the nation's economic recovery party, but the state should be celebrating all through 1997.

Here is what key industries will be up to:

UTILITIES: With the start of electric power deregulation looming, residential and business customers will be besieged with incentives from power marketers to abandon their mother utilities. But apart from a state-mandated 10% rate cut going into effect January 1998, residential customers will see little price relief because so much of their bills remain dedicated to paying off nuclear plants and alternative energy contracts. The L.A. Department of Water and Power may even raise residential electricity rates and cut rates to businesses to keep commercial customers from fleeing to marketers. Southern California Edison will fight tooth and nail against the Southern California Gas-San Diego Gas & Electric merger that may come to a Public Utilities Commission vote in late 1997.

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