SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Gray Davis said the state's two largest utilities are partly to blame for this week's widespread blackouts because they've failed to pay millions of dollars owed to environmentally-friendly power generators.
Davis accused the utilities of taking in money from customers while failing to pay the small, alternative generating plants, which include solar, wind and geothermal energy producers.
The state has been spending about $45 million a day since January to buy power for customers of Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which are so credit-poor that suppliers refuse to sell to them.
"It's wrong and irresponsible of the utilities to pocket this money and not pay the generators," the governor said at a Capitol news conference Tuesday. "They've acted irresponsibly and immorally and it has to stop."
The state lost about 3,100 megawatts, or enough electricity to power 3.1 million homes, on Tuesday from alternative energy plants that say they can't afford to keep operating because the utilities haven't paid their bills in weeks.
Davis said the PUC planned to issue an order next week directing the utilities to pre-pay future bills to the alternative plants.
PG&E called Gray's statements "inappropriate and unjustified," adding that it was negotiating a payment plan with the suppliers. Edison said it is intent on paying creditors and working with the Public Utilities Commission to pay the plants for future power sales.
Edison and PG&E say they have lost more than $13 billion since last June to climbing wholesale electricity prices, which the state's 1996 deregulation law prevents them from passing on to ratepayers.
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