California Must Release Spot Market Power Contracts, Judge Says : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

California Must Release Spot Market Power Contracts, Judge Says By Joyzelle Davis

San Diego, July 5 (Bloomberg) -- California Governor Gray Davis must release by July 16 records of how much the state has spent purchasing power on the spot market, a state judge ruled.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn ruled the state must produce spot market invoices, purchase orders and confirmation sheets for contracts signed from January 1 through June 27.

Several media organizations and Republican state legislators sued under California's public record act to obtain the contracts, arguing the state used billions in taxpayer money to buy power. Davis countered that disclosure would hurt the state's bargaining position with generators and force it to pay higher prices.

``There's an obvious and manifest public interest in disclosure of these contracts,'' said Alonzo Wickers, a lawyer representing the media companies, at a hearing last week.

Media companies had also sought disclosure of 38 uncensored long-term contracts to buy $43 billion in electricity. On Monday, State Controller Kathleen Connell released all those contracts in full, ahead of Quinn's ruling.

Connell, a fellow Democrat, has criticized the governor for keeping the contracts secret. She also released terms of consulting contracts the state made with investment advisers and energy traders.

The state has spent about $7.4 billion buying electricity for three investor-owned utilities. The state's Department of Water Resources now buys about one-third of the power used by the state's two largest utilities, PG&E Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric and Edison International's Southern California Edison. Pacific Gas declared bankruptcy in April.

Legislators and consumer groups have criticized Davis, saying the state is locking itself into expensive long-term contracts that would force it to pay higher rates for electricity in future years.

Those seeking access to the long-term and spot-market contract information include Copley Press Inc., Tribune Co.'s Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg LP's Bloomberg News. State Assemblyman Tony Strickland, joined by 10 fellow Republican Assembly members, filed a similar suit in the same court.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 05, 2001

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