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Attorney General Asks Court to Order Reliant to Turn Over Materials Sought for Energy Investigation
(SAN FRANCISCO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer is seeking to have the court order Reliant to turn over materials sought for California's investigation into possibly unfair and anti-competitive business practices by the power generator and other energy companies.
"After stalling for over a year, Reliant now is trying to avoid handing over materials that could shed light on fraud or other illegal activities by the company and other energy companies during California's recent energy crisis," Lockyer said today. "Reliant should not be allowed to use pending litigation to freeze or otherwise thwart our investigation into the manipulation of California's energy markets by power companies."
A hearing on the petition is set for June 7 in San Francisco Superior Court. In the petition filed Friday, the Attorney General argues that Reliant's refusal now to turn over any documents because of pending litigation is yet another effort by the company to hamper the state's investigation into possible illegal manipulation of California's energy markets. Since February 2001, the Attorney General has issued four investigatory subpoenas to Reliant. The Attorney General argues that Reliant for more than a year has refused to turn over the same electronic files, trade secret documents and other information still being sought.
The petition noted that the initial subpoenas have been withdrawn or narrowed since the filing of the civil and administrative complaints against Reliant to exclude information that would be material to the pending litigation. The petition added that the complaints against Reliant "do not relate to every aspect of Reliant's conduct in the electricity markets. In contrast, the ongoing investigation seeks to uncover all evidence of unlawful conduct in the markets, including whether Reliant and others violated state and federal laws unrelated to any filed action. This investigation does not suddenly end when the Attorney General discovers and sues upon specific violations of the law."
Based on evidence uncovered to date, the Attorney General filed three civil complaints in March and April against Reliant and demanded refunds through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the unjust and unreasonable rates charged by Reliant in California. The civil complaints allege that Reliant engaged in unfair business practices by charging unjust and unreasonable rates that violated the federal Power Act and illegally sold electricity generation capacity into the "real time" market after already being paid millions of dollars by the California Independent System Operator to keep the power in reserve to meet emergency demands to protect the reliability and safety of the power grid serving California. The Attorney General also filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Reliant, seeking divestiture of power company assets to restore fair competition in the southern California electricity market.