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Energy Regulators Report Conspiracy In California Crisis

A report by federal energy regulators details how two power companies may have conspired to drive up prices during California´s 2000-2001 energy crisis. The previously undisclosed findings have angered officials who say regulators let the companies off with just a slap on the wrist.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report focuses on discussions between employees of Williams and AES Corporation about prolonging an outage at a power plant to take advantage of higher prices the state was paying at the height of the crisis. The report says employees also cut deals to shut down a second power plant AES operated for Williams.

As a result of the two plants being closed for 15 days, Williams earned more than 10 million dollars in energy sales from its other plants. The FERC investigation ended in March 2001 when Williams agreed to refund the state million dollars. The companies did not admit any wrongdoing.