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CalEnergy, Edison prepare for second phase of legal battle

March 29, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Two weeks after geothermal producer CalEnergy won its first court victory against Southern California Edison, the two will be back in court Monday for the next phase of their legal battle.

During a hearing to start at 8:30 a.m. before Imperial County Superior Court Judge Donal Donnelly, CalEnergy will ask the court to force Edison to pay at least $99 million owed to CalEnergy.

CalEnergy officials have said Edison owes about $140 million based on a contract in which eight of CalEnergy's 10 geothermal plants in the Valley supplied energy to Edison. Since November Edison has not made payments to CalEnergy.

CalEnergy filed a lawsuit against Edison seeking two court actions; that the court allow CalEnergy to sell its power to a utility that will pay for it and that Edison be forced to pay.

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Donnelly ruled that CalEnergy could suspend its contract with Edison and sell its power to another utility.

Hours after that decision, CalEnergy reached an agreement with El Paso Merchant Energy, in which EPME will purchase CalEnergy's power and broker it to other utilities.

CalEnergy officials said the ruling was a clear victory because it will enable the company to meet its property tax payment to Imperial County and continue operations.

Edison officials have yet to say whether they will appeal Donnelly's ruling.

An Edison spokesman was unavailable for comment this morning.

On Monday, CalEnergy is looking for Donnelly to force Edison to pay the past due bills.

When CalEnergy filed its lawsuit against Edison, CalEnergy was seeking $45 million — the amount owed for November and December.

CalEnergy has amended the lawsuit and is asking for at least $99 million.

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

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