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Edison Unit Resumes Suit Against California Energy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mission Power Engineering, the Irvine construction and engineering subsidiary of the parent company of Southern California Edison, has scrubbed settlement talks and resumed its $70-million fraud suit against California Energy Co.

The dispute revolves around Mission Power’s involvement in building eight geothermal power plants as part of a $310-million project for San Francisco-based California Energy in the Coso and China Lake areas of Inyo County.

The suit was filed in Inyo County Superior Court in June. Mission Power alleged that California Energy made changes in the scope of the work and caused delays without paying for the additional costs.

California Energy officials dispute Mission Power’s claimed losses and say any changes abided by the contractual agreement. The company filed a $90-million countersuit against Mission Power on Dec. 31, said Robert Taggart, California Energy senior vice president of external affairs.

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“The gloves are off,” said Taggart, who called Mission Power’s announcement a “publicity stunt.”

In July, the two parties held talks and California Energy made a first payment of $10 million to Mission Power. But Mission Power said an accord was not reached by the Dec. 31 deadline.

“We had a mediator try to resolve the issues, but no agreement could be reached,” said Dan Brieg, Mission Power project manager, who also said construction ended in February, 1990.

Mission Power has cut its employment from a peak of 850, mostly in Inyo County, to less than 100. The firm is being consolidated into its sister company, Mission Energy in Irvine.

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Mission Power also said it would sue Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank that provided financing for plant construction.

The geothermal plants use steam to generate electric power.


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