A federal court has decided that SCE has the right to recover from its customers “reasonable costs” incurred purchasing power during the statewide energy supply crisis, at least until a trial has been held to determine if SCE’s purchases have been prudent. The ruling results from a court action taken by SCE against the state Public Utilities Commission.

Meanwhile Cal-ISO, the independent system operator, has declared a stage 2 emergency, on Tuesday 9th January, which means that power demand rose to within 5 per cent of available supply, triggering CSE’s voluntary curtailment programme under which large customers have agreed to temporarily reduce their power consumption in exchange for reduced rates.

Financial analysts have warned that large banks that have backed California’s two biggest utilities, SCE and Pacific Gas & Electric, could be sufficiently damaged, if the utilities are pushed to the brink of bankruptcy, to cause severe shock waves in the European financial market.