BC, Powerex, settle California power suit
VICTORIA - Powerex, the for-profit arm of BC Hydro, has reached an out-of-court settlement, unplugging a 12-year-old, potentially multi-million dollar lawsuit with California.
Powerex has agreed to pay California utilities, the state's attorney general and several others $750 million in U.S. dollars, but most of it will be paid off using a credit that California owes British Columbia.
It means Powerex will post a roughly $101-million loss this year, but Energy Minister Bill Bennett says taxpayers won't be shelling out in higher rate premiums.
The settlement stems from the 2000-2001 power crisis in California that sent rolling blackouts throughout the state and prompted record-high electricity prices.
Powerex was one of 60 companies supplying California with electricity at that time, and the state accused many of its providers of price-gouging and price fixing.
In announcing the settlement, the B.C. government says Powerex does not admit to any wrongdoing and points to a 2003 review of the utility by a U.S. commission that found Powerex had done nothing wrong and instead was a reliable supplier to California during the energy crisis.