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Davis praises three ex-employees who testified against power firm

By Jennifer Coleman The Associated Press June 26th, 2001


Gov. Gray Davis met Monday with three former energy company employees he called "heroes" for testifying that Duke Energy reduced power production at times when the state needed it most.

Davis said the testimony of Glenn Johnson, Ed Edwards and Jimmy Olkjer before a Senate investigating committee Friday could help California recover billions of dollars in inflated energy costs.

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing officer on Monday began negotiating a settlement between the state and energy producers over the $9 billion Davis says the state is owed.

The three men told the Senate Committee to Investigate Price Manipulation that officials at the Chula Vista plant ordered power units off-line for apparently unnecessary maintenance; destroyed parts that were needed for repairs; and manipulated the electricity it was feeding the statewide grid.

Davis said the testimony echoed his suspicions that generators had "a concerted effort to suck every dime out of this state and ship it to Houston and North Carolina."

In a meeting Monday with Pat Wood and Nora Brownell, two newly appointed FERC commissioners, Davis asked federal regulators to also investigate the allegations that generators withheld power to drive up prices.

Firing back: A Duke spokesman said the governor should "educate himself" before meeting with the three men or making disparaging comments about Duke.

"This sort of dialogue and showmanship is unproductive to addressing the root causes of the electricity crisis," said spokesman Tom Williams. "We categorically deny their allegations because they are based on an incomplete knowledge of what’s going on."

Independent Energy Producers Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones said the former workers’ testimony is not a smoking gun and only offers part of the picture.

Duke Energy’s power fluctuations were at the direction of the state’s grid operators, Williams said. The company has asked the Independent System Operator, managers of the state’s power grid, to confirm that, he said.

Legal action: The governor was joined at the breakfast meeting by Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, D-Tracy, who have filed a lawsuit charging that generators have overcharged the state by billions of dollars.

"There’s no question in my mind that a lot of dollars were stolen from California and these men are going to help us get it back," Matthews said.

Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, who chairs the investigatory committee, said he expects other whistle blowers to step forward.

-- PHO (, June 26, 2001


Davis is going to end up destroying any chance at California energy salvation--by scaring off all new sources of energy supply.

-- Uncle Fred (, June 26, 2001.

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