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Energy Cos. Confirm Calif. Subpoenas

Nov 12, 2002 | AP

Two additional energy companies confirmed Tuesday they have been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors investigating California's energy crisis.

Houston-based Dynegy Inc. and Southern Company each received a subpoena to provide information to a federal grand jury in San Francisco that is looking into allegations that several power companies schemed to drive up electricity prices in California in 2000 and 2001.

Southern's former subsidiary, Mirant Corp., marketed and traded energy in California during the state's power crisis. The subpoena covers a number of broad areas, including information regarding electricity production and sales activities in California, Southern officials said. Mirant, based in Atlanta, was spun off from Southern Company in April 2001.

Mirant, Tulsa-based Williams Cos., Houston-based Reliant Resources Inc. and Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy were also subpoenaed and each said they would cooperate.

The state Public Utilities Commission has blamed most of the blackouts on energy companies withholding power from the market. The agency singled out the five largest energy suppliers: Duke, Dynegy, Mirant, Reliant and AES/Williams.

The generators have denied that they withheld energy, saying they were ordered to run aging plants harder than normal to meet demand and had to perform more maintenance as a result.

Last month Timothy Belden, a former Portland, Ore.-based Enron Corp. trader pleaded guilty to wire fraud for scheming to drive up California energy prices.

Williams announced Monday that it settled complaints of overcharging California by reworking some long-term energy contracts with the state. The settlement doesn't affect the federal grand jury's investigation.

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