California AG announces $750 million settlement with Powerex

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 19, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a $750 million settlement with a Canadian power company Friday over claims related to the 2000-2001 California energy crisis.

Powerex allegedly engaged in market gaming by buying and exporting to Canada large quantities of electricity needed by California and selling it back to California at very high prices.

"Californians suffered through huge rate hikes and blackouts during the energy crisis," Harris said. "This settlement brings long-awaited compensation to California ratepayers for Powerex's conduct."

Between Jan. 17, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2001, the California Department of Water Resources allegedly purchased energy from Powerex in thousands of out of market transactions. The CDWR was forced to buy more than 1,000 megawatts of energy to maintain grid reliability and avoid blackouts.

Between Jan. 17, 2001, and June 20, 2001, OOM transactions were uncapped. Harris' office alleged Powerex overcharged CDWR about $850 million on $1 billion worth of purchases.

The settlement with Powerex includes the CDWR's California Energy Resources Scheduling Division, the state's investor-owned utilities, the Public Utilities Commission, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The Public Utilities Commission will determine how settlement funds will go to the ratepayers of the investor-owned utilities. Most of the settlement money will be given back to the ratepayers.

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