Edison to pursue issue of market manipulation

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The San Diego Union-Tribune

LOS ANGELES — Southern California Edison said yesterday that in a filing next Wednesday it would “hammer home” to federal regulators its belief that there was manipulation of California’s electricity market this summer.

Wednesday is the deadline for responses to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposal to repair California’s deregulated power market, which caused power costs to triple this summer. FERC found in its report that electricity rates were unjust and unreasonable — thereby unlawful under federal statute — but said it lacked legal authority to order refunds.

Gov. Gray Davis, along with other political leaders and consumer advocates, maintains FERC has that authority and should issue refunds of electric rates paid in recent months.

Southern California Edison, whose customers continue to enjoy a rate freeze, made its announcement during a news conference regarding a filing it made last week with state regulators. In that filing, it asked for permission to raise rates 9.9 percent above 1996 levels when the state-mandated rate freeze is lifted.

A consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said the proposal would be unfair to consumers.

Edison wants the government to foist the company’s energy cost overruns entirely onto innocent ratepayers, instead of addressing the fundamental problems of this misguided deregulation fiasco,” consumer advocate Doug Heller said.

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