FERC judge rules energy companies overcharged California

Dec. 13, 2002 — A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) administrative law judge issued the recommendation that energy companies overcharged California by $1.8 billion during the state’s energy crisis in 2000 and 2001.

The judge’s recommendation would still have to be adopted by FERC as a whole, but if it were, the state would not likely get any of the refunds it is asking for because the companies still have $3 billion in unpaid bills for energy delivered to California, according to the Associated Press. As a result, under the present plan, the state may have to pay back the energy companies $1.2 billion.

The state had asked for $8.9 billion in refunds for that time period when electricity prices were skyrocketing.

Several groups immediately expressed disbelief and disappointment, including the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), which called the finding “absurd and outrageous.”

“FERC has once again ignored the utter failure of energy deregulation and continues on the path of failing consumers and protecting the energy companies that stole billions from California,” said FTCR’s senior consumer advocate Doug Heller. “The notion that these power companies should get even a dime, rather than pay Californians back for the billions they stole, is baffling, absurd and outrageous.”

The judge named the largest generators and sellers of wholesale electricity in California, including Enron Corp., Mirant, , the Williams Cos., Reliant Energy, Dynegy and Duke Energy.

Not included in the judge’s ruling is about $3.4 billion that the California Department of Water Resources paid when it began buying power for the state.

More information is available on FERC’s web site at: http://www.ferc.gov.

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