Oregon Joins Energy Settlement Talksby Tom Detzel, The Oregonian staff
The Oregonian, June 29, 2001
The state will be a part of negotiations
over alleged overcharging of Western states by power suppliers
WASHINGTON -- Oregon formally asked Thursday to intervene in negotiations over billions of dollars in potential electricity refunds in the West.
The state will send two lawyers from the attorney general's office and a representative from the Oregon Office of Energy to the confidential talks, which opened this week under order of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The talks revolve around accusations that power suppliers overcharged utilities in California and 10 other states as much as $15 billion over the past year as wholesale electricity prices hit record highs.
Oregon and other Northwest utilities were invited to participate somewhat belatedly last week by administrative law Judge Curtis Wagner, who is presiding over the conference, which involves more than 70 parties.
"We just want to make sure that if Oregon consumers can get refunds, they do," said Jan Margosian, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Hardy Myers.
California, which claims it is owed almost $9 billion from overcharges, and the state of Washington are both in the negotiations. They are partners with Oregon in an antitrust investigation into price manipulation by power suppliers.
If negotiators fail to reach a settlement on the refund claims and other issues by July 9, then Wagner has seven days to recommend one to FERC.
Representing Oregon in the negotiations will be assistant attorneys general Jason Jones of the regulated utilities division and Colin Yost of the consumer protection and financial fraud division.
Phil Carver, a senior analyst, will represent the Office of Energy.
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