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Cajun Nuclear Assets Go to RUS

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1996

U.S. District Judge Prank Polozola has settled 22 lawsuits involving bankrupt Cajun Electric Power Co-op. and Gulf States Utilities over the River Bend nuclear plant. The settlement turns Cajun's 30-percent share of River Bend over to the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which holds liens on most of Cajun's assets.

The settlement gives RUS three options: 1) seek a buyer for River Bend, 2) take title in its own name, or 3) give Cajun's 30-percent interest to Entergy Gulf States. Each option releases Cajun from its unpaid past, present, and future liability for River Bend costs and expenses.

River Bend was constructed and operated by Gulf States Utilities, now Entergy Gulf States. Cajun's bankruptcy filing in December 1994 stemmed from the high cost of constructing and operating the nuclear plant, and the Louisiana Public Service Commission's refusal to allow Cajun to recover its River Bend investment in rates.

When the settlement becomes final, Entergy Gulf States will recover payments it made under a preliminary injunction for operation and maintenance expenses associated with its 42-percent share of the Big Cajun 2 Unit 3 coal-fired generating plant, of which Cajun is majority owner and operator.

"With the exception of two relatively recent open-access dockets before the FERC, all litigation between the parties will be dismissed and released," said Cajun CEO Daniel E. MacLeod. "We will transfer a small portion of our transmission assets to Entergy Gulf States, Entergy Gulf States will release its claims against the RUS, and the RUS will release its lien on the River Bend unit."

Some additional regulatory approvals are needed before the settlement is officially completed, and the parties have targeted June 1997 for completion.

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