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Industry News

California May Renegotiate Power Contracts

LCG, Jan. 10, 2002--A series of ongoing meetings have brought representatives from the governor's office and state agencies into talks with power sellers concerning existing power supply contracts worth $43 billion over the next seven to ten years.

The contracts were signed during a time of soaring wholesale prices for power bought on the spot market, and before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission instituted price caps. The companies participating so far include Calpine Corp., Dynegy Inc., PacifiCorp, Sempra Energy and Williams Cos..

The representatives of the state, who also include members of the state Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Water Resources and the state attorney general's office, have already pursued the dismissal of contracts for reasons of improprieties which may have led to the contracts' signing, and have looked to the FERC for rulings against some of them. In some cases, power bought at $121 per megawatt may not be needed and could be sold out-of-state for $19 per megawatt.

Of the 50 long-term contracts, 6 supply a disproportionate share of the power being purchased. In addition to the cost, the state's Joint Legislative Audit Committee found that the contracts are insufficient in terms of reliability.

The power companies hold to their view that the deals they and the state entered into last year were fair. At the same time, Calpine spokeswoman Katherine Potter said, "We're happy to sit down and work with our customers...if there'sa way we can reach a mutual agreement, we're happy to work with them."

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