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Edison will ask judge to refrain from expediting CalEnergy suit

February 27, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Attorneys for Southern California Edison will ask Imperial County Superior Court Judge Donal Donnelly on Wednesday to not expedite a $45 million lawsuit filed against the utility by CalEnergy.

Russell Swartz, senior attorney for Edison, declined this morning to say much about the lawsuit, in which CalEnergy is seeking payment for money owed to it by Edison. He said it is company policy not to speak about matters of litigation.

He did point out the obvious — Edison wants Donnelly to allow the case to move forward at a normal pace.

The question of expediting the case will be heard starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Department 5 of the Imperial County Courthouse in El Centro.


CalEnergy operates 10 geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley, eight of which are contracted to provide energy to Edison.

CalEnergy officials have said Edison has failed to meet its payments as far back as November.

CalEnergy is seeking payments for November and December. CalEnergy officials have said Edison owes $45 million for those two months.

CalEnergy officials have said the company cannot operate forever without being paid by Edison. The company is having to tap into its own money to fund daily operations and payroll. Company officials have not said specifically how long it can operate without being paid.

Attorneys for CalEnergy have asked the court to expedite the lawsuit filed just over a week ago.

John Shiner, an attorney for CalEnergy, said the company would like to see the case move forward in weeks rather than the months it normally would take.

Donnelly last week did take one step to expedite the matter. He ruled CalEnergy could present its request for a summary judgment during Wednesday's hearing.

That request seeks to have the judge rather than a jury rule on the case's merits. Donnelly is not expected to rule Wednesday on whether he will allow the case to be handled as a summary judgment.

Still, attorneys have said typically it can take up to three months from the time a lawsuit is filed until a judge receives the summary judgment request.

The lawsuit has two parts to it. CalEnergy is seeking payment from Edison and is asking the court to allow it to sell its energy elsewhere in the state.

Swartz said he expects to talk to attorneys for CalEnergy on the second issue today.

He declined to speak further on the issue of CalEnergy selling its energy elsewhere, stating it is a matter for negotiations.

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

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