FERC to Release Evidence in Energy Probe

Times Staff Writer

Evidence submitted to federal regulators that allegedly shows that energy companies and municipal utilities manipulated California's electricity markets and withheld power will be made public in the next few weeks, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Pat Wood said Wednesday.

Three California agencies and two large electric utilities presented the evidence to the agency Monday to bolster the state's claims that it is due $9 billion in refunds for overcharges during the energy crisis of 2000-01. More than 3,000 pages of evidence were placed under seal by FERC despite protests by politicians and the coalition that made the filing.

Late Wednesday, FERC posted notice of its intention to lift the protective order sealing the documents, which was done to protect market information. The firms have until March 12 to comment on whether the documents should be released.

Wood told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday that he expected the documents to be made public in about three weeks.

Documents submitted by the state include depositions of executives, transcripts of recorded conversations between traders, plant operation records and testimony by industry experts.

Gov. Gray Davis said he was pleased by the expected release.

"FERC has to stand up to the plate and do what's right, which is to compensate people for the excess amount they had to pay for power," Davis said.

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