Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced an agreement in principle with El Paso Corporation, a Houston, Texas-based energy company. The agreement ends a multi-state investigation into El Paso's alleged involvement in an illegal market manipulation resulting in skyrocketing west coast energy prices during 2000 and 2001. As part of the agreement, Oregon will receive $17 million in damages.
El Paso is the second company to settle claims arising from a coordinated investigation into wholesale energy pricing by the Attorneys General of Oregon, Washington and California. The Williams Companies settled in November 2002. Myers announced the distribution of that settlement last week.
The $1.7 billion dollar El Paso settlement resolves claims made by Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada as well as numerous private litigants and other parties.
"The agreement with El Paso further reinforces our assertions that Oregon ratepayers were forced to pay outrageously and unlawfully high energy prices," Myers said. "This is another important step in our investigation."
The detailed terms of the settlement, including a distribution plan for the settlement fund, have not been finalized and will require court approval.
"It is impossible to underestimate the impact the energy crisis has had on Oregonians and on the West Coast as a whole," Myers said. "Because of the complexity of the market, it is unlikely we will ever know the full extent of the harm. Nevertheless, the Department of Justice will do all it can to ensure Oregonians are repaid."
Investigators are continuing to scrutinize other market players, including Mirant, Dynegy, Duke, Reliant (now known as Center Point Energy, Inc.) and others. As part of the agreement, El Paso agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org