CPS general manager leaves nuclear meeting

January 11, 2010

By Anton Caputo
San Antonio Express-News

CPS Energy acting General Manager Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley walked out of Monday talks aimed at settling the $32 billion nuclear project lawsuit and said she questioned whether the other side took the negotiations seriously.

LeBlanc-Burley exited the Westin River Walk Hotel, where the discussions took place, after making a short statement noting that neither Nuclear Innovation North America CEO Steve Winn nor NRG Energy CEO David Crane made the trip to San Antonio.

"Obviously they had better things to do," LeBlanc-Burley said. "I find it unacceptable that they are not here."

Monday’s meeting was set up by Mayor Julián Castro last week. Castro urged the sides to engage in round-the-clock negotiations if necessary to settle the suit.

In LeBlanc-Burley’s absence, the partners’ legal teams continued negotiations behind closed doors.

CPS is suing NINA, which is a partnership between NRG Energy and Toshiba Inc., for $32 billion. The utility claims that NINA, NRG and Toshiba lured CPS into the project through "fraudulent, defamatory and illegal conduct" and then tried to push out CPS by disseminating false information in the press.

NRG spokesman David Knox said the two sides actually began talking last Thursday in Washington, D.C., and that NINA appropriately sent the same team to San Antonio to continue the negotiations. NINA sent General Counsel Jamie Seely and Chief Financial Officer Bruce Chung to the discussions.

"This is not about senior leadership being in the room but about commitment to get results in complex negotiations," Knox said. "We have that commitment and our team is fully empowered to negotiate."

Castro declined comment on the situation.

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