Judge sets Apr. 16 hearing on CalEnergy lawsuit

A California state judge set a Apr. 16 hearing on CalEnergy Operating Corp.�s motion to force Southern California Edison Co. to come up with $140 million in alleged past due payments. CalEnergy Operating, a geothermal operator, won permission Mar. 22 from an Imperial County Superior Court judge to temporarily sell its electricity on the open market, even though the company has a long-term contract with Southern California Edison.

Apr 3rd, 2001


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Apr. 3�A California state judge set a Apr. 16 hearing on CalEnergy Operating Corp.�s motion to force Southern California Edison Co. to come up with $140 million in alleged past due payments.

CalEnergy Operating, a geothermal operator, won permission Mar. 22 from an Imperial County Superior Court judge to temporarily sell its electricity on the open market, even though the company has a long-term contract with Southern California Edison.

CalEnergy also alleged Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International, breached the contract by failing to pay for any output since Nov. 1. The plants filed suit Feb. 20 in Imperial County Superior Court seeking back payment from Southern California Edison, authorization to suspend contracts, and permission to sell power elsewhere in California, if the utility is unable to pay its bills.

Monday, Judge Donal Donnelly reconfirmed his previous ruling permitting open market sales and delayed a request for a ruling on the motion for summary judgement until Apr. 16.

CalEnergy operates a complex of eight geothermal plants producing about 268 Mw of electricity in Imperial Valley. �Naturally we are disappointed that the court has delayed ruling on the issue of past due payments that Southern California Edison owes CalEnergy, but we remain optimistic that we will ultimately prevail,� the company said in a statement.

Southern California Edison said it �appreciated� the postponement so it could coordinate legal action filed against the company by six similar qualifying facilities (QF) in three counties. The utility argued in court Monday that CalEnergy is obligated under its contract to continue selling Southern California Edison electricity.

The utility said it intends to meet April obligations to the QFs, or small independent generators under direct contract such as CalEnergy, using the new payment formula approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. CalEnergy said the PUC order setting QF pricing going forward has no impact on its lawsuit or the court order to allow sales on the open market.

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