08/16/2013 13:29 EDT | Updated 10/16/2013 05:12 EDT

BC Hydro's Powerex pays $750M to settle California claims

A BC Hydro subsidiary accused of manipulating energy prices during the California energy crisis more than 12 years ago will pay $273 million US in cash and offer the state electric utilities a credit worth $477 million in a settlement, the company announced this morning.

Powerex is one of 60 electricity trading companies accused of selling power to California at inflated prices during the summer of 2000 and 2001 when areas of the state experienced shortages that led to rolling blackouts and other emergencies.

The settlement announced Friday by CEO Teresa Conway relieves Powerex of a potential $3.2-billion liability from the ongoing actions of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against the electricity trading companies.

At a morning news conference, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the province and the company were not happy with the settlement, but the risk to taxpayers in a long and costly legal fight was too high.

Bennett said the settlement won't raise prices for B.C. ratepayers.