Power firm to refund $85.7 million

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Midway Sunset Cogeneration Co. will pay $85.7 million to settle claims stemming from its role in a crisis that drove up energy prices in California and other Western states in 2000 and 2001, federal regulators said Wednesday.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission presided over the settlement between Midway Sunset and parties including Edison International’s Southern California Edison Co. and PG&E; Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

It is the latest in a string of refunds awarded to Californians through legal battles over how much the state and its utilities overpaid for electricity during the 2000-01 energy crisis -- a time when the cost of power soared, in part because some traders were manipulating the state’s power market.


“This settlement brings us another step closer to resolving lingering issues from the Western energy crisis,” FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher said.

Midway Sunset owns a 225-megawatt cogeneration plant at a Kern County oil field. The plant burns natural gas to create steam for oil-recovery efforts and to generate electricity.

California experienced a power supply crisis in 2000 after a drought that cut Western hydropower supplies exacerbated an already tight supply-demand situation. After an investigation, FERC concluded that power marketer Enron Corp. and other companies exploited the crisis and manipulated California’s power market.

As a result of claims stemming from the crisis, FERC has approved more than $6.3 billion worth of settlements, according to the agency.