FERC ALJ Pushes Back CA Refund Findings to December

Bruce Birchman, the FERC administrative law judge (ALJ) overseeing proceedings related to possible refunds for electricity overcharges in California, last Thursday issued a revised trial schedule related to the proceeding under which he now plans to certify proposed findings of fact in mid-December.

Birchman last month said that he expected to certify proposed findings of fact in early November. But since that time, issues have arisen that have made it increasingly difficult for the parties in the proceeding to meet Birchman's initial schedule.

The defunct California Power Exchange (PX), for example, voiced concerns as to whether it would be able to generate data in time to meet Birchman's schedule, which prompted the ALJ to hold a prehearing conference on Sept. 5. The PX reported a "serious slippage" in the joint production effort by the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) and the PX. Also, the PX said its ability to process further data to be provided by Cal-ISO and develop its own required data in compliance with the procedural schedule was in serious doubt.

Birchman, in a report to FERC, noted that a revised trial schedule was adopted at the Sept. 5 prehearing conference. Under the new schedule, final data from the PX is now due on Oct. 29. The hearing in the proceeding will start on Nov. 14 and conclude on Nov. 20. Initial briefs in the form of proposed findings of fact and underlying evidentiary support and justification are due on Nov. 26. Reply briefs in the form of objections to Nov. 26 proposed findings of fact are due on Nov. 29.

Birchman expects to certify proposed findings of fact and record in the proceeding on Dec. 13, 2001.

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