Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown's legal victory over the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ended with a $160 million refund to the state, the Los Angeles Unified School District and other state agencies.

Attorneys from Brown's office successfully argued that according to state law municipal power authorities can only charge governmental customers a percentage of what it took to build its power generator and grid.

The attorney general's lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino County in 2000, alleged that the authority have overcharged governmental customers during a 10-year period between 1997 and 2007.

The refund, for "illegal and unjustified charges," according the court ruling, repays the agencies for the amount overcharged.

"The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had been imposing illegal and unjustified overcharges on their governmental customers for several years," Brown said, in a statement released Monday. "The L.A. school district and other governmental agencies need every available dollar in these hard economic times."

The court believed the power authority buried these overcharges in its monthly bills, a violation of state law and the state Constitution.

According to an attorney general's office press release, several agencies were victims.

"Since 1997, the Department overcharged local and county agencies," the press release stated, "including the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Community College District.

Several state agencies were also overcharged by the utility, including UCLA, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Northridge, Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, the Department of Corrections, Department of Motor Vehicles, Employee Development Department, the State Teachers Retirement System, Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of General Services."

According to terms of the court ruling, $25.3 million will go the Los Angeles Unified School District. The transist authority will receive $11 million and Los Angeles County will receive $12.4 million. The state of California will receive $6.1 million.

In addition to the cash refunds, the power authority will pay more than $60 million to the various state and local agencies to fund projects that will reduce energy consumption, the attorney general's office stated.

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