Williams defends pricing of electricity

Friday, March 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Williams Cos. Inc. says it can justify the rates it charged for wholesale power, despite accusations from federal regulators that it sold over-priced electricity to California.

Federal regulators claim Williams Energy Marketing and Trading Co., a unit of Tulsa-based Williams, owes California more than $40 million in refunds for power it sold to the state's Independent System Operator.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that Williams is one of several power providers responsible for $124 million in overcharges from transactions in January and February.

The Independent System Operator, which manages the state's power grid, claims the state was overcharged $6.2 billion by 21 wholesale power providers, including Williams, between May and February.

Williams says the rates it charged California were fair and were based on production costs and market conditions.

``Williams is confident that it performed within the guidelines established by the ISO,'' said Williams spokeswoman Paula Hall Collins. ``We felt like we had worked within the regulations set up by ISO.''

According to the commission, power prices levied by Williams in January and February exceeded federal price ceilings based on the cost of natural gas and other market conditions.

However, the price ceilings were established after the ISO accepted Williams' power prices, Collins said.

The commission will review Williams' explanation and either accept the justification or order the company to pay refunds.