Enron Willing To Settle Nevada Dispute

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After winning a round in court against Sierra Pacific Resources and its subsidiaries including Nevada Power Co., Enron Corp. wants to negotiate a settlement.

"The ratepayers of Nevada would be a lot better off if we were to sit down and have meaningful settlement talks," Enron spokesman Mark Palmer said after a New York bankruptcy judge issued a final order in a contract dispute between energy trader Enron, Nevada Power and its sister company, Sierra Pacific Power Co. of Reno.

The court order requires Nevada utilities to pay Enron $336 million, including interest, for power purchase deals made during the Western energy crisis of 2002.

Sierra Pacific Resources and Nevada Power executives declined to comment on Friday's ruling or Enron's statements.

The ruling has the Nevada utilities scrambling to post a $338 million bond for the judgment. If the judge accepts the bond, the companies would not have to pay the judgment while appealing.

The companies warned the judge that forcing them to pay now could force them into bankruptcy.

"In the absence of a stay pending appeal, irreparable injury is likely to occur both to the Nevada companies and to third-party creditors," the filing said. "The absence of a stay pending appeal ... will trigger judgment default provisions in over $1.9 billion of debt financing.

Nevada Consumer Advocate Tim Hay said if a bond is granted, staying the execution of the judgment in the case, would be little motivation for a settlement.

"I'd say it's very unlikely that a settlement could be negotiated," he said. "It may be a question of them playing the game out as long as they can."

Palmer said that despite the controversy surrounding Enron and its role in market manipulation and the energy crisis, the bankrupt company today has a singular purpose.

"The Enron estate exists for the purpose of maximizing value that will eventually be distributed to stakeholders in the process," he said.