Riding the coattails of state budget legislation facing a June30 deadline, California lawmakers are making an end-run around thestate’s constitutionally quasi-independent energy regulatory panelwith an amendment to block regulators’ latest move to expandwholesale electricity competition in the state. It is a similarpattern to what the elected officials have done the past two yearsregarding natural gas industry issues.
Articles from Facing
Reliant Energy’s Houston Lighting & Power (HL&P) couldbe on the hook for millions depending upon punitive damagesassessed in a case that has hit the utility with $4.2 million inactual damages awarded to three Texas cities. Lawyers for theplaintiffs last week suggested a punitive award in the range of $40million would be appropriate.
With its stock price depressed since accounting irregularitiescame to light in one of its divisions, Baker Hughes Inc. and two ofits senior officers now have been named in securities fraudlawsuits filed last week in U.S. District Court for the SouthernDistrict of Texas. Suits were filed on behalf of investors whobought Baker Hughes common stock May 3 through Dec. 8.
The “catastrophic” impact of anemic crude oil prices on domesticoil and gas producers requires Congress and the Clintonadministration to take “extraordinary” measures to revive an”industry that is on its knees,” lawmakers on the Senate Energy andNatural Resources Committee said Thursday.
Low commodity prices have driven Bartlesville, OK-based PhillipsPetroleum Co. to cut 1,400 jobs and costs and increase availablecash flow in 1999. “We don’t anticipate margin improvements in thenear term, therefore we are adjusting our plans accordingly,” saidCEO Wayne Allen. “The changes will impact our level of operatingcosts, staffing requirements and capital spending. We are takingthese steps to improve our financial performance and create valuefor our shareholders.”
One of the “biggest issues” facing the natural gas industry inthe upcoming year with respect to Y2K will be the readiness of “keyproviders and dependent players,” namely the electricity andtelecommunications industries, said pipeline and LDC officials lastweek.
Unocal Corp., like most other producers struggling againstdepressed oil and gas prices, said Wednesday it expects to cutcapital spending by 30 to 40% in 1999 from this year’s level. Inaddition, the company is targeting cash expense reductions of $150million, of which about $100 million has already been identified.