California agrees to drop lawsuits accusing Williams Cos. of price gouging during power crisis - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

California agrees to drop lawsuits accusing Williams Cos. of price gouging during power crisis

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ California has agreed to drop all lawsuits accusing Williams Cos. Inc. of price gouging during the state's energy crisis, while the energy company agreed to reduce the price of its long-term contracts.

The Oklahoma company also agreed to pay California $150 million over eight years and provide it with six electric-generation turbines valued at $90 million. The company's original 10-year, $4.3 billion contract will be cut about $1.4 billion under the settlement finalized Friday.

``This is a significant milestone for us,'' said Williams spokeswoman Julie Gentz.

California added a provision allowing the state to continue to investigate Williams' role in the alleged manipulation of gas index prices.

``Depending on what we find, we can pursue civil or criminal enforcement cases against them,'' said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Williams is one of several energy traders that admitted to providing bogus information about natural gas transactions to an industry publication that reports index prices. The revelations suggest that traders attempted to manipulate index prices.

On Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined that Williams owed California more than $192 million in refunds.

Williams was among dozens of power suppliers FERC determined had overcharged California by $1.8 billion during the state's power crisis two years ago. The settlement finalized Friday requires FERC approval, Williams said.

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