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Court: State Energy Regulators Acted Legally

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The California Supreme Court ruled today that state regulators acted legally in approving electricity rate hikes of as much as 40 percent during the energy crisis of 2001.

The justices said the state Public Utilities Commission didn´t violate deregulation rules or open meeting laws when commissioners approved the rate hike behind closed doors. The PUC action was taken in October 2001 to settle a lawsuit from Southern California Edison. At stake — at least $3 billion in customer fees.

The settlement let Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric continue to collect a surcharge to cover the cost of delivering power.

The agreement with Edison was designed to help the utility pay debts by leaving a year-old temporary rate hike in effect for another two years.

Consumer groups sued after Edison and PG-and-E amassed billions in debts when wholesale electricity rates soared beyond frozen retail rates.

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