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Bids for PGE come rolling in

The bidding war for Portland General Electric has begun.

Thirty parties have expressed interest in purchasing PGE from its bankrupt parent, Enron Corp., and 25 of those have demonstrated enough interest to warrant a second round of bidding, company representatives told the Oregon Public Utility Commission on Wednesday.

'We have received very significant interest in PGE,' Enron spokesman Mark Palmer said after the commission briefing. 'We will proceed on to the second round of bidding on PGE and also on the other assets we have put into this process.'

During the second round of bidding, which is expected to end in November, Enron will work more closely with the existing bidders.

Palmer ruled out any further discussions with city officials, who have expressed an interest in buying PGE, unless they submit a formal bid.

There shouldn't be a need to go around the process, he said.

'We have designed the process to be a level playing field. Anybody who cares to make a bid can make a bid,' Palmer said.

Mary Volm, a spokeswoman for the city, said that Portland representatives who went to the meeting will review what was said there. The city is prohibited from saying more by a confidentiality agreement with Enron.

Palmer declined to reveal the price range or to provide any information about the bidders. Last May, NW Natural offered $2.9 billion for PGE, but energy experts predict bids will top $3 billion this time.

'We hope to have executed final purchase and sale agreements with as many bidders as possible so then we can determine what is the highest and best offer,' Palmer said.

If Enron determines none of the offers is sufficient, it will move forward with OpCo Energy, its proposed reorganization plan.