The California attorney general filed a third suit against PowerEx, this time claiming it sold the state excessively priced power exported from California and imported back in to drive up the wholesale cost of energy by avoiding price caps. The suit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court May 18, claims that the BC Hydro subsidiary and the Public Service Company of New Mexico engaged in numerous ?ricochet? or ?megawatt laundering? schemes between May 2000 and June 2001 in violation of California?s antitrust and other state laws. As a result of the suits, PowerEx is threatening to play hardball. We are ?reevaluating who we will do business with,? said Elisha Moreno, PowerEx spokesperson. She noted that California is expected to be hit with a very hot summer and the company may not sell hydro at peak periods to the state. She declined to say who was on a potential blacklist but added that PowerEx has good relations with many municipal power agencies and investor-owned utilities in the state. Half of state power imports come from the Pacific Northwest, but the California Independent System Operator would not say how much it buys from PowerEx because of confidentiality rules. The Department of Water Sources bought power from the company during the crisis and it was a supplier of last resort, said Oscar Hildalgo, DWR spokesperson. ?We paid a ransom,? he said, adding, ?They were the toughest to deal with.? In February of this year, Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued PowerEx for alleged price gouging at DWR. Last December, Lockyer claimed that the Canadian company violated California?s commodities fraud law by engaging in megawatt laundering and other alleged gaming ploys made famous by Enron. The AG?s suit was filed this week ?because we were satisfied that we had accumulated sufficient evidence to bring a solid case,? said Tom Dresslar, spokesperson for the attorney general. ?Ricochet was one of the power companies? favorite Enron games, and they used it to gouge Californians by more than $1 billion dollars,? Lockyer stated. The lawsuit seeks treble damages for a claimed 800,000 MWh of illegal sales. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigated ricochet claims against PowerEx and cleared it of wrongdoing in October 2003. Moreno said the suit was reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day, in which the same bad action keeps recurring. Company press releases noted FERC?s exoneration and accusied the California AG of ?legal blackmail? last February were posted on PowerEx?s home page midweek. In January 2004, FERC dismissed market-gaming charges by California against Public Service New Mexico. ?We consider our wholesale market business activities to be above reproach,? PNM chief executive officer Jeff Sterba said in a statement. ?Exonerations by FERC have little value,? Dresslar said. ?They were like grains of sand on a California beach.? In the details of the lawsuit, the state alleges that PowerEx and PNM, with the supposed help of the Colorado River Commission, which is not a named defendant, exported and then imported in the same hour 158,622 MWh during more than 900 hours between May and October 2000. The trio also allegedly laundered 184,169 MWh during 1,100 hours between October 2000 and January 2001. Another 463,734 MWh during 2,000 hours between January and June 2001 were also clamed to have been ricocheted. PowerEx successfully moved these two earlier suits to federal court. The AG seeks to get them back into state court. The federal court in Sacramento will hear arguments on the motions on May 31. Also on May 18, Lockyer joined 10 other state attorneys general in litigation against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a new rule that weakens protections against mercury emissions from power plants. ?Cap and trade emission programs, while sometimes appropriate for general pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, are inappropriate for mercury because they can allow local depositions of mercury to continue unabated near plants that chose not to reduce emissions, perpetuating hot spots and hot regions,? claims the AG?s joint press release.