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WA Utilities Receive Settlement Funds for Low-Income Programs

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office on December 1 began sending about $6.2 million to utilities throughout Washington to help reduce heating expenses for low-income households and support weatherization programs that improve heating efficiency.

The money comes from a multi-state settlement with the energy trading company Enron for price gouging during the 2000 and 2001, which reportedly earned the company nearly $2 billion in profits from its electricity trading operations in the Western states. Attorneys general from several states investigated whether Enron traders manipulated the energy market,  and the  states of Washington, California and Oregon, as well as some California utilities and other organizations, settled with Enron for $1.52 billion in 2005.

Due to the company’s bankruptcy, states received considerably less than the settlement amount. In fact, Washington was only able to recover about half of the $22.5 million it was owed under the settlement.

Rather than distribute small refunds to individuals, the state decided to allocate it to the state’s 56 public and privately-owned utilities based on the number of customers served by each. The settlement mandated the funds be spent on low-income programs.  The largest amount, $2.1 million, went to Puget Sound Energy.

In prior years, the state has distributed money from settlementswith other energy companies.

Source: Washington Attorney General