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UPPING THE ANTE

Southern California Edison is signing deals undercutting the state-mandated power auction under the Biennial Resource Plan Update which would have benefited wind. The utility is replacing over 70% of the wind capacity it is due to purchase under the BRPU with other deals, including some with non wind companies.

With the California energy industry mired in a major dispute, one of the largest utilities is upping the ante -- and signing deals that undercut a state-mandated power auction that would benefit wind. Southern California Edison (SCE) says it has signed three agreements with independents to replace 397 MW of energy purchases under the Biennial Resource Plan Update (BRPU). The utility had already signed a deal with Kenetech Windpower for 37.5 MW, with a possibility of additional capacity if SCE wants it. The utility's most recent deals bring the total replacement to almost 500 MW in contracts, or over 70% of what the utility must purchase under the BRPU. SCE maintains it has no need for the power and that it will cost it a staggering $14 billion -- which it threatens will lead to higher consumer costs. The new deals include one with a cogeneration company, US Generating Co, and a biomass company, BTI Chino. The dispute had been heating up for some time leading to both SCE and the Independent Energy Producers placing full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal.

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