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Court Now In Power Rate Dispute

The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether power regulators unlawfully authorized a utility to use money generated by record-high electric rate hikes to pay its debts.

The case was brought by consumer advocates.

It challenges a 2001 closed-door settlement between the Public Utilities Commission and Southern California Edison — which was pushed into debt during the power crisis.

The settlement let the utility pay its debts and avoid bankruptcy by keeping temporary rate hikes in place for two additional years.

The consumer advocacy group the Utility Reform Network sued. It said the settlement has forced millions of customers to pay high rates for expenses the rate hikes weren´t meant to cover.

The court didn´t say when it would rule.