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Judge Upholds Refunds In Market Manipulation Probe

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(CBS) Ed Mertz
Ed Mertz has been at KFWB since March of 2000 and began reporting for...
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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Consumers across Southern California and statewide could soon receive $1.6 billion in refunds after a ruling that upheld findings that alleged over a dozen electricity wholesalers artificially drove up energy prices 13 years ago.

KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports an administrative judge has sided with state regulators who investigated record prices amid rolling blackouts.

The interim ruling – if upheld by federal regulators – would force utilities to repay customers for the unprecedented rise in prices back during the summer of 2000.

Frank Lindh, attorney for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), said the electricity crisis – which was attributed to traders at the now-defunct Enron Corp. and other wholesalers – was a nightmare for the state.

“It was a catastrophe in the summer of 2000,” said Lindh. “We had the highest electricity prices ever recorded, we also had blackouts and brownouts through the summer, and it was all because these people were manipulating that market.”

Lindh said any potential refund would be automatically credited in the form of a discounted bill.

“It’ll come through to everybody’s electricity bill, a couple dollars for each person,” he said.

The ruling could also face a legal challenge by SoCal Edison and other utilities.

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