Chad Deal 6:58 p.m., May 21
Utility Customers get $400 Million from Sempra Settlement
California utility customers will get $400 million in refunds from San Diego-based Sempra Energy, stemming from the 2000-2001 energy crisis. The settlement was announced today (April 28) by Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. The deal provides $270 million to reimburse customers who are paying off crisis-related debt on their monthly gas and electric bills. Sempra will also pay $130 million to consumers to settle separate claims by the state Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Water Resources. During the crisis, Sempra, Enron and other companies created phony energy shortages and blackouts, leading to record high energy prices. In legal documents, Sempra was accused of "Enron-style gaming" of energy markets and a "pervasive pattern of market manipulation and abuse." Sempra was accused of entering "Enron-style partnerships" that unsettled markets, driving prices higher.