Joining in the feeding frenzy that has become California’selectricity rate debate, a San Diego-based utility consumer groupand four law firms last week filed (Nov. 29) in Superior Court inSan Diego a class action lawsuit against 13 major generators,marketers and energy trading companies, the veritable “who’s who”of the state’s electricity market.

Calling itself an anti-trust legal consortium, the consumergroup and legal firms on behalf of the electric customers of SanDiego Gas and Electric Co. are seeking at least $1 billion in whatit calls “overpayments” to the utility caused by “deliberatemanipulation of prices in California’s electricity market” by the14 companies.

“This is a consumer class action suit designed to get our moneyback,” said Michael Shames, a lawyer and head of the SanDiego-based Utility Consumer Action Network, which has beenappearing at state regulatory and legislative sessions for twodecades as one of the state’s most active utility watchdog groups.”The defendants “unlawfully manipulated the market by fixing pricesand restricting supply into the markets operated by the CaliforniaPower Exchange (Cal-PX) and the California Independent SystemOperator.”

The 13 companies named are: Dynegy Power Marketing, Inc.; EnronEnergy Services; Enron Power Marketing, Inc.; PG&E EnergyTrading; Reliant Energy Services, Inc.; Sempra Energy Trading;Sempra Energy Resources: Southern Company Energy Marketing;Williams Energy Marketing and Trading; Williams Energy ServicesCompany; Duke Energy Trading and Marketing LLC; NRG Energy; andMorgan Stanley Capital Group, Inc.

Spokespeople for Enron and a number of other companies echoedthe same response that the suit is without merit and separate stateand federal investigations have not found any evidence the marketwas manipulated.

Richard Nemec, Los Angeles

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