More than a decade after energy companies gouged California ratepayers during a trumped-up energy crisis, the state stands to recoup $2 billion.
Two rulings (here and here) by the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., this week could net the state huge payouts from the Oregon-based Bonneville Power Administration and Colorado-based Western Area Power Administration.
Last March, the court ruled that the two energy wholesalers jacked up prices in 2000-01 when it sold the state electricity from federal dams. The court’s two decisions this week affirmed that ruling and accepted California’s damage claims.
In February, an administrative law judge for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recommended that a dozen companies pay back $1 billion to the state as compensation for their misdeeds along with $600 million in interest. The five-member commission is expected to make a final ruling in that case soon.
In all, more than 30 companies have been forced to cough up more than $5 billion in settlements with California. The state got a late start in trying to collect money from energy companies because, for years, FERC refused to hear complaints that it was due compensation for the blatant market manipulation. But a federal court in 2006 said FERC was wrong and the process for reviewing claims began in earnest.
Earlier in the year, California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) member Mike Florio castigated the “pirates” he said had stolen money from California ratepayers. The booty could be returned to Californians in the form of refunds or rate reductions.