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CalEnergy puts contract fate in hands of judge

March 15, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CalEnergy officials said this morning they are looking to an Imperial County Superior Court hearing March 22 to free the company from its contract with Southern California Edison.

Vince Signorotti, CalEnergy land manager, said the geothermal company is hopeful Judge Donal Donnelly will rule that CalEnergy can sell its power to other utilities.

When asked how much longer CalEnergy can continue operations without being paid by Edison, Signorotti said it is still a difficult question to answer.

Other renewable energy providers have taken their facilities off-line because they have not received payment for the energy provided to Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

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Eight of CalEnergy's 10 plants in the Imperial Valley provide energy to Edison.

An aide of state Sen. Jim Battin, who serves the Imperial Valley, confirmed this morning renewable energy providers in the state are closing operations because they are not being paid.

That means there is less power flowing through the state, the Battin aide said. The aide could not say specifically how much power has been lost as a result of renewable energy providers going off-line.

While Signorotti said it is difficult to pinpoint just how long CalEnergy can maintain its operations, the company announced Wednesday it would be unable to pay $3.8 million in property taxes to Imperial County in April.

Edison has failed to pay more than $75 million owed to CalEnergy. CalEnergy is asking the court to force Edison to pay $45 million, the amount Edison owes for November and December.

CalEnergy also is asking the court to allow it to sell its energy elsewhere. That is the decision Signorotti said he is hopeful the court will make March 22.

CalEnergy and Edison were trying to negotiate a settlement regarding CalEnergy selling its power elsewhere, but those talks failed.

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

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