PUC may address whether Edison is required to make back payments

April 17, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday could address whether Southern California Edison must make back payments to renewable energy providers, including those in the Imperial Valley.

Attorneys for Edison said during a hearing in Imperial County Superior Court on Monday the PUC has an item on the agenda for its Thursday meeting to address the back payment issue.

A PUC spokeswoman said there is an item on the agenda that relates to Edison making payments to renewable energy providers, otherwise known as qualifying facilities.

She said she thinks that matter relates to back payments. However, she did not have specific information on the item.

Edison is embroiled in a legal battle with CalEnergy, which operates 10 geothermal plants in the Imperial Valley, eight of which have been contracted for 10 years to supply energy to Edison.


For five months starting in November, Edison stopped making contractual payments to its renewable energy providers, including CalEnergy.

Two other local geothermal companies, Heber Geothermal and Second Imperial Geothermal, have filed a lawsuit against Edison.

The local geothermals have contended Edison failed to make payments for energy it has received since November.

CalEnergy, which in court last month won the right to suspend its contract with Edison and sell its power on the open market, is owed about $120 million, according to CalEnergy officials.

Heber Geothermal and SIGC officials have said they are owed about $35 million collectively. They operate under the same parent company and have filed a single lawsuit against Edison.

That lawsuit, filed in the Imperial County Superior Court, has yet to be heard.

Edison has contended the local court has no jurisdiction to rule on such matters, stating the PUC has jurisdiction.

During a hearing Monday, Edison attorneys again stated the PUC has jurisdiction, adding the matter of back payments is expected to be part of the PUC discussion Thursday.

CalEnergy officials said they are unsure whether the PUC will deal with the matter of back payments. They have argued the PUC has not claimed jurisdiction over the payment issue.

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

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles