By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Jan 2, 2002 – Pacific Gas & Electric Co. asked a US bankruptcy court to bar a consumer advocate unit of the California Public Utilities Commission from efforts to obtain correspondence with its parent PG&E Corp. concerning the utility’s bankruptcy filing.
Pacific Gas & Electric said the Office of Ratepayers Advocates requested the utility produce the documents in a proceeding opened by the PUC to review the relationship between the utility and PG&E. It said the data request covered documents related to the utility’s reorganization plan, including information about settlement offers with generators, copies of board of directors meeting minutes concerning bankruptcy discussions, and other financial work papers.
The consumer arm of the PUC “seeks to circumvent the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction over administration of the estate and the plan of reorganization confirmation process, said Pacific Gas & Electric, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization Apr. 6. The San Francisco utility said such documents would typically be produced, if at all, only in response to a discovery request related to plan confirmation objections.
The PUC has opposed the company’s reorganization plan, claiming Pacific Gas & Electric is trying to escape state regulators to raise electricity prices. Regulators have tried to block the plan from moving forward. California’s largest utility has proposed shifting control of its power plants and electric and natural gas transmission systems from state to federal regulators.
US Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s streamlined process for resolving claims of $100,000 or less Dec. 27.The utility said it owes $13.2 billion to about 10,000 creditors, with major banks and the state of California owed millions of dollars apiece. The total debt owed smaller creditors is $120 million, but they make up the majority of claims.
A hearing on the preliminary injunction request is scheduled for Feb. 4.