CalEnergy fails in bid to sell power to other energy utilities

March 08, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CalEnergy and Southern California Edison have failed to reach an agreement that would allow the geothermal company in the Imperial Valley to sell its power to other energy utilities in the state.

As a result, a court hearing has been set for March 22 to address that issue.

"Given that Edison has continued to collect millions from rate payers every day without paying anything out, and given that we are quickly running out of cash, we should at least be able to sell our power to other buyers in California who actually pay for the electricity," said Vince Signorotti, land manager for CalEnergy.

The geothermal company operates 10 plants in the Imperial Valley, eight of which are contracted to sell power to Edison.

CalEnergy has filed a $45 million lawsuit against Edison, stating the company has failed to make payments on the contract since November.

To date, Edison owes CalEnergy more than $75 million. The lawsuit seeks only the $45 million Edison owes for the months of November and December.


Along with asking the court to force Edison to pay on the contract, CalEnergy is asking the court to allow it to sell energy elsewhere in the state.

"Selling our power into the open market may be the only short-term means of keeping our power flowing in California and keeping our geothermal plants operating and paying our employees," Signorotti said.

CalEnergy officials have said the company is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of its own money daily to keep the plants operating and meet the payroll.

CalEnergy has asked that the court expedite the case to deal with both the issue of selling power elsewhere and the payments owed by Edison.

In hearings to date, Superior Court Judge Donal Donnelly has taken steps to move the case on a faster track.

Typically, it would take up to three months before CalEnergy could file a request for a summary judgment on the case in which it would ask the judge to rule on the matter rather than a jury.

Instead, CalEnergy will be able to present its request for a summary judgment on April 2, about one month after it filed its lawsuit against Edison.

The lack of payment by Edison has caused CalEnergy to not pay royalty fees to landowners upon whose land the geothermal company's plants are located.

County officials have voiced concern at the effect the battle between CalEnergy and Edison could have on the county's economy.

They said the plant is an important source of revenue for the county, supplying millions in property tax revenue each year.

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

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles