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Attorney General Bill Lockyer Issues Statement in Response to PG&E Decision to File for Bankruptcy

Friday, April 6, 2001
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Locker today released the following statement regarding Pacific Gas & Electric's decision to file for bankruptcy:

"The uncontrolled increase in electricity prices by generators and marketers has claimed another victim with the bankruptcy of one of California's oldest businesses. While this is a significant and unwelcome development, our team of bankruptcy litigators has been preparing for several months to defend California taxpayers in the event of a utility bankruptcy. This morning, I spoke with a PG&E executive, and he personally assured me that the utility will honor its legal obligation to pay the state for its purchase of energy and to repay its renewable energy supplier-creditors ("qualified facilities"). I am prepared to enforce those assurances in the courts to the extent necessary. Over the last several months, our state attorneys have fought hard in the courts to ensure that out-of-state generators continue to deliver adequate electricity and natural gas supplies to Californians in spite of the precarious financial condition of the state's two major utilities. The health and safety of Californians and the future of our economy require that our state not be left holding the bag for greedy business decisions of generators, marketers and utilities. Justice requires that those who have reaped unconscionable profits at the expense of Californians must pay back what they owe. I will use all the considerable resources of the law to help our policymakers keep the lights on and the bills affordable for every California home and business, to recover California tax and ratepayer dollars that have been illegally or unfairly taken, and to punish wrongdoers."

AWARD TO INFORMANTS

"It is possible that one or more members of the public can help with information, and if so, the financial reward to such a person or persons could be enormous. My office is conducting an aggressive investigation into whether energy providers have violated any laws. Over the last four years, state and local government agencies have spent billions of dollars in state and local taxpayer money to purchase electricity and natural gas. Under California false claims law, any person or corporation who obtains state taxpayer money by fraud or illegal acts is liable for financial penalties that can be as high as three times the actual losses. And anyone who provides information leading to the successful prosecution of a false claim action may be entitled to a percentage share in that award. Since billions of state dollars may be recovered, the award to an informant could potentially range from $50 million to the hundreds of millions of dollars. I am asking any member of the public with personal knowledge of any wrongful act which may have resulted in reduction in the California supplies or increase in the price of natural gas or electricity to contact my office immediately by calling: 1-800-952-5225 (w/in CA) or (916) 322-3360 (local or out of state), or e-mail the Attorney General's Energy Emergency Task Force at energywhistleblower@doj.ca.gov."

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