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CalEnergy moving to expedite lawsuit against Edison seeking $45 million

February 21, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CalEnergy this morning was moving to file legal documents that would expedite its $45 million lawsuit filed Tuesday against Southern California Edison.

Vince Signorotti, land manager for CalEnergy, said this morning the company cannot wait through a long court process to settle the issue. He said there must be action soon.

"Frankly, we are in a serious cash-flow situation," he said. "We cannot go on indefinitely without being paid."

CalEnergy has a contract to supply power to Edison. Eight of CalEnergy's 10 plants in the Imperial Valley supply power to Edison.

Signorotti said Edison has not made payments to CalEnergy since November.

The lawsuit, filed in Imperial County Superior Court, asks the court to force Edison to pay $45 million in back payments for November and December.


"We have demanded payments and they (Edison) have refused," Signorotti said, adding CalEnergy had no choice but to file a lawsuit.

The lawsuit also asks the court to allow CalEnergy to sell its power elsewhere in the state.

When asked how long CalEnergy could continue operating without being paid by Edison, Signorotti said that is a difficult question to answer.

He said the company does have daily operating costs along with payroll and other expenses.

CalEnergy has been unable to pay royalties to the landowners upon whose land the company's geothermal plants sit.

Signorotti said the company is looking for quick action by the court. However, he said he realizes Edison could appeal any decision that forces payment.

He added if the courts cannot provide a solution to the issue, CalEnergy is hoping state legislation could benefit the company.

"We are actively supporting a legislative solution," he said.

He said one key piece of legislation being drafted by state Sen. Jim Battin, who represents the Imperial Valley, would have renewable energy providers such as CalEnergy paid by the state.

A spokesman for Battin said the legislation is still being developed and has yet to be presented for consideration by the Legislature.

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

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