Our Opinion: A bold and correct ruling

March 23, 2001

A bold ruling by Imperial County Superior Court Judge Donal Donnelly should help CalEnergy's finances, and that should help Imperial County in countless ways.

Edison has not paid CalEnergy in five months. Donnelly ruled that a contract between CalEnergy and Southern California Edison could be suspended to allow CalEnergy to send its power to companies that will — what a novel idea! — pay CalEnergy.

Edison lawyers tried to argue that the matter should be in the hands of the state Public Utilities Commission, but Donnelly ruled there was no precedent for that and came back with his decision. Waiting on a PUC decision might have resulted in CalEnergy going bankrupt, which essentially would be punishing the innocent party in this case.

While Donnelly's ruling is a grand one for Imperial County, because CalEnergy is a major employer in the Imperial Valley and its property taxes and property royalties prop up the county, we are convinced that Donnelly's ruling had nothing to do with provinciality and everything to do with law.


It seems pretty simple. If you don't hold up your end of a contract by paying your bills, you have violated your contract. Until Edison can rectify that situation, it seems only right that CalEnergy should be allowed to sell its energy elsewhere and maintain its viability. If CalEnergy has a product ready to be sold, why should the company be forced to sell it to an organization that hasn't paid and apparently is in no rush to pay?

Yes, we do see other energy providers in California quickly responding to this ruling by suing to free themselves from the non-paying claws of SCE and Pacific Gas & Electric. That scenario happening was not Donnelly's business and not CalEnergy's concern.

Yes, some customers served by Edison might suffer. Some might blame CalEnergy for that, but they should blame Edison alone for its unwise, selfish and some might say outright stupid financial activities in the wake of power deregulation in California. Edison, when confronted, should point the finger of blame at itself.

We don't see that happening.

We do see Donnelly making another ruling early next month forcing Edison to pay what it owes to CalEnergy. It owes hundreds of millions of dollars, and even for a large company such as CalEnergy, that is a tremendous sum to not receive if it still to continue to operate.

There is no moral or legal reason for CalEnergy to pay for Edison's stupidity, and we are thankful Donnelly saw that.

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