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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2001
AGO Investigating Energy Pricing Allegations


OLYMPIA --
Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire confirmed today that her office is investigating allegations that there may be price manipulation and unfair business practices behind the region's energy crisis.

Gregoire said the investigation will look into possible violations of the state's antitrust and consumer protection laws. " We want to make sure Washington consumers and utilities are not being charged unfair rates," she said.

In response to the energy crisis, California's Attorney General recently launched an investigation into allegations of collusion, price manipulations, unfair business practices and other possible violations of antitrust law. Gregoire said the Oregon Attorney General also is starting an investigation and the three states will work cooperatively.

"Based on hints of manipulated energy supplies and allegations of price manipulation, I think we owe it to Washington utilities and consumers to make sure the soaring prices are not the result of illegal practices," Gregoire said.

She noted that Securities and Exchange Commission filings by some power generators indicate their quarterly profits were 15 to 20 times greater than they were for the same period a year ago. "When we hear about these stunning profit increases, I think we need to investigate," she said.

The Attorney General's Office has an Antitrust Division that enforces state and federal laws protecting consumers and businesses from anti-competitive practices, such as price fixing.

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