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Foster Electric Report

A California court has tentatively ruled that Commissioner Henry Duque should be removed from the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) because of a conflict of interest stemming from his ownership of stock in a telecommunication company regulated by the CPUC.

After the surprising resignation last month of Commissioner Richard Bilas, Duque is the only remaining appointee of former Gov. Pete Wilson (R). Appointed in 1995, Duque’s present term ends in December.

Acting on a suit by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the San Francisco Superior Court on April 2 found that Duque obtained 700 shares of Nextel Communications Inc. in May 1999 and sold them 15 months later, profiting $69,000 in the process. Finding that Duque’s failure to give his stockbroker better direction on the stocks he could own was based on bad judgement rather than bad faith, Judge Alfred Chiantelli nevertheless ruled that Duque should be lose his seat at the CPUC and pay a $5,000 fine for the conflict of interest.

Calpine Corp. has reached a tentative agreement with California Gov. Gray Davis‘s (D) administration to renegotiate $11.7 billion in long-term power contracts that the state Dept. of Water Resources (DWR) signed during the height of California’s energy crisis.

According to reports, the agreement would cut 10 years off the original $70/kWh, 20-year contract, saving the state $2.8 billion in the process. In return, Calpine will be allowed to sell more power to the state over the next two years of the contract.

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