CalEnergy seeking $45 million from Edison

February 20, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CalEnergy Operating Co., which has 10 geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley, filed a $45 million lawsuit this morning against Southern California Edison.

Chris Doyle of Fleishman-Hillard, a public relations firm contracted by CalEnergy, said the geothermal company filed the suit in Imperial County Superior Court over payments owed by Edison for November and December.

Eight of CalEnergy's geothermal plants supply power to Edison, one of three investor-owned utilities in the state.

The power crisis in the state has pushed Edison to the brink of bankruptcy. As a result the company has failed to make payments to CalEnergy.

In turn, CalEnergy has been unable to pay the monthly royalties to those who own the land upon which the geothermal plants are located.


A press release from Fleishman-Hillard states Edison owes $45 million in back payments and CalEnergy is asking the court to order immediate payment.

CalEnergy also is asking the court to allow it to stop providing power to Edison and to allow it to sell its energy elsewhere in California.

The lawsuit does not include a payment owed by Edison for power received in January. Payment on that bill is not due until March.

According to the press release, the lawsuit states the failure of Edison to make its payments "threatens the continued viability of the geothermal complex and its ability to provide power to California residents."

The press release further states non-payment "already has damaged the geothermal generator's credit rating and that the complex is incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars per day in salaries, operating costs and other obligations."

Vincent J. Signorotti, land manager for CalEnergy's local operation, stated in the press release, "We've been working around the clock to provide electricity from this renewable source during our state's power crisis.

"We would prefer not to take this legal action, but the situation leaves us no choice. Obviously, we cannot continue to operate without compensation. We have to pay our bills, too," Signorotti said.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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