Attorney General Lockyer Petitions FERC to Order Refunds for Electricity Overcharges

Cites New Evidence From Enron Documents Of Market Manipulation

Thursday, May 16, 2002
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) - Citing new evidence for consideration, Attorney General Bill Lockyer is asking FERC to again consider ordering over $1 billion in refunds to California for energy purchases from the Pacific Northwest during the state's energy crisis.

Lockyer called on FERC to reopen its hearing on the refund request in a petition filed Wednesday, submitting new evidence showing attempts by power companies to manipulate electricity prices in the West. The evidence included documents obtained under subpoena from Enron's Portland trading office that note other sellers active in the Pacific Northwest as having engaged in similar strategies, including Powerex, Williams, Portland General, Coral and Bonneville Power Authority.

"These new Enron documents, taken together with the Enron memos released by the Commission on May 6, 2002, further indicate that Enron (and perhaps numerous other suppliers) engaged in attempts to manipulate the electricity markets in the western United States, including the Pacific Northwest and in California, beginning at least in June 2000," the Attorney General told FERC. "The Commission should reopen the evidentiary record in this case in order to provide the opportunity of parties to explore these issues and demonstrate that manipulation occurred, that it occurred at a date far earlier than December 25, 2000, and that it occurred not only in California but in the Pacific Northwest as well."

California and the City of Tacoma had asked FERC last year to grant refunds for unjust and unreasonable rates charged for spot market electricity sales in the Pacific Northwest from December 25, 2000 through June 20, 2001. California is seeking refunds of some $1.5 billion in overcharges. After asking for quick submissions of evidence in the case, FERC received proposed findings from the administrative law judge who concluded that the market was "competitive and functional" and that she saw "no evidence of the exercise of market power." FERC has not acted on the findings received in late October.

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