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Southern California Customers To Benefit From Settlement With Canadian Utility

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Canadian utility has agreed to pay $750 million to settle claims arising from the 2000-2001 energy crisis, and most of the money will go to customers of Rosemead-based Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced Friday.

The settlement was reached with Powerex, a hydro-electric utility owned by the province of British Columbia. Harris said in a statement that Powerex engaged in market gaming by purchasing and exporting to Canada huge quantities of electricity that California needed, then selling it back to California at exorbitant prices.

"Californians suffered through huge rate hikes and blackouts during the energy crisis," Harris said. "This settlement brings long-awaited compensation to California ratepayers for Powerex's conduct."

The parties to the settlement includes the California Energy Resources Scheduling (CERS) Division of the Department of Water Resources, the Public Utilities Commission, and the state's investor-owned utilities -- Edison, SDG&E, and PG&E, which serves customers in Central and Northern California.

During the energy crisis, CERS purchased energy on behalf of California's utilities "to help keep the lights on for customers,'' said the California Department of Justice statement, adding that the PUC will determine how settlement funds will flow to utility ratepayers.

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