SACRAMENTO, CA — Former workers at a Duke Energy plant told the California legislature that the company allegedly stalled production, discarded spare parts, and took other actions to reduce output and increase electricity prices.

The three employees worked for the San Diego Gas and Electric Co., which operated Duke Energy’s South Bay plant in Chula Vista as a subcontractor. The workers were released when Duke took control of the facility in April.

Duke Energy denied the workers’ testimony. “These allegations represent just one more page in a very long chapter of misinformation disseminated by people who don't know the full story,” stated Bill Hall, vice president for the firm’s Western operations.

Testifying at a state hearing looking into electricity price manipulation, the employees — two mechanics and a control room technician — said that they were asked to throw out replacement parts; not finish maintenance; and operate a more costly emergency turbine when it was not necessary.

One of the workers said he was to throw away some new parts so Duke Energy would not accrue inventory tax. Tom Williams, a Duke spokesman, responded that the company inherited inventory from San Diego Gas and Electric. “We chose to keep some of it and to not keep some of it,” he said.

Publication date: 07/02/2001