Attorney General Seeks to Block Southern California Edison's Effort to Remove Rate Caps to Hike Electricity Rates

Monday, February 19, 2001
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(LOS ANGELES) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer is seeking to block Southern California Edison's effort to significantly hike electricity rates notwithstanding the statutory rate freeze adopted as part of a comprehensive plan to restructure California's power market and protect consumers from excessive electricity prices.

The Attorney General late Thursday asked federal Judge Ronald S.W. Lew to not issue the preliminary injunction being sought by Southern California Edison in order to avoid creating a new obstacle around which the State must navigate in addressing the energy crisis. Southern California Edison has asked the court to direct the Public Utilities Commission to remove electricity rate caps set as part of a comprehensive plan to deregulate electricity rates in California. The utility has claimed that the PUC has not acted to alleviate the company's financial strain. The judge is scheduled to consider the matter Monday.

The filing noted that many issues raised by Southern California Edison already have been addressed by actions of the Legislature and Governor and other issues raised, such as the financial security of the utility, are under active consideration by policymakers. It was noted that the Legislature and Governor have enacted a new law (ABX1 1) which authorizes the State to enter into long-term contracts under which costs of electricity will be much lower than the present cost on the spot market. The filing also noted that the State is negotiating with Southern California Edison over its debt problems.

"In short, the People suggest that this Court take no action in the near term that would change the status quo, in order to give the Governor and the Legislature sufficient time to address the various facets of the energy situation, including the uncollected procurement costs which are the basis of this action," the Attorney General said in court papers filed with the US District Court, Central District of California, Western Division. "Thus, the Court should either deny the motion for preliminary injunction without prejudice or defer ruling on it in order to permit these negotiations to conclude."

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