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Powerex settles California energy crisis case for $750 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Canada's Powerex has reached a $750 million settlement with California over claims that it had manipulated electricity prices during the 2000-2001 energy crisis, the state said on Friday.

California suffered severe blackouts and sky-high natural gas and electricity prices during the yearlong crisis which, exacerbated by a drought, hit the economy and helped push out the state's governor at the time.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement that Powerex, a subsidiary of Canadian utility BC Hydro, exported California electricity to Canada and then sold it back to the state at "exorbitant" prices.

"Californians suffered through huge rate hikes and blackouts during the energy crisis," Harris said. "This settlement brings long-awaited compensation to California ratepayers for Powerex's conduct."

The settlement includes the Department of Water Resources' California Energy Resources Scheduling division, the Public Utilities Commission and investor owned utilities such as PG&E Corp and Edison International's Southern California Edison.

(Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)