CPUC Approves $2 Billion Borrowing for SoCalEd

California regulators have issued emergency authorization for increased borrowing --- up to $2 billion --- for Southern California Edison to help it pay the bills for this summer's power price spikes.

The utility needs the money to pay power suppliers' bills since its frozen retail rates resulted in huge undercollections from customers.

In a closed session of the special California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) meeting, regulators also considered San Diego Gas and Electric's request that state regulators ask FERC to set caps on the prices generators and traders can ask for when they bid into California's power market.

For Edison, the greater borrowing was granted unanimously, but only for the limited use of paying for the purchase of wholesale power that in turn is sold to the utility's retail customers.

In July, Edison originally requested an increase in its borrowing authority to a lower level of $1.2 billion, asking that it be effective to Aug. 1. Then last week the utility asked for emergency action to take the amount to the higher level, which is close to the $1.97 billion under-collection recorded as of Aug. 31.

Under California regulatory laws, the CPUC is permitted to give quick-turnaround action when the situation involves an "unforeseen emergency."

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