A federal judge in San Francisco issued an injunction against Enron Energy Services on Wednesday to keep the company from altering an energy-billing contract with the University of California.

Under the contract, Enron supplies the UC and California State University with energy through Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas and Electric at a fixed price. On Feb. 1, Enron sought to return UC and CSU to the electrical distribution and billing systems of Southern California Edison and PG&E, a move that could cost the university billions of dollars.

Enron spokesperson Peggy Mahoney said the company needed to break the contract to help pay its suppliers.

“Power comes from PG&E, PG&E sends us the bill and we’re paying their rate, then we send the final bill to UC and CSU who pay the rate that they’re under contract for with us,” Mahoney told the UCLA Daily Bruin.

But the UC and CSU argued in court that Enron wanted to pass the burden to California taxpayers. A UC Office of the President (UCOP) statement said a contract change could cost taxpayers millions.

The injunction, issued by U.S. District Judge Phillis Hamilton, forces Enron to continue supplying energy at the rate specified in the 1998 contract. Enron immediately appealed the decision to the ninth U.S. Circuit Court.

The University is one of the largest power consumers in the state, using 332 megawatts at peak times. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes, according to UCOP. The University’s annual electric bill is approximately $87 million.

– Nexus Staff Report