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Justify prices or pay, energy companies told

The government told six power generating companies on Friday to justify $55-million worth of wholesale electricity sales in California in February or pay refunds.

The action came a week after a similar order was issued to 13 generators who were told they may have overcharged buyers by $69-million during January.

The directives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are part of the agency's effort to address charges that power wholesalers have received windfall profits in the California market this winter by charging prices beyond what is reasonable.

The power companies, which include some of the largest wholesale energy suppliers in the country, have until Friday to defend their prices. If they do not, the commission will order refunds or have the amounts applied to money owed them by California's utilities, officials said.

CIA names banker as No. 3 man

WASHINGTON _ A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, a cigar-chomping former investment banker and martial arts enthusiast, was named executive director of the CIA on Friday, bringing a fast-paced management style to the agency's No. 3 job.

Central Intelligence Agency Director George J. Tenet announced the appointment, saying he treasures Krongard's "wise counsel" and "no-nonsense, business-like views."

Krongard, 64, former head of Alex Brown & Co., an investment bank based in Baltimore, joined the agency three years ago as a counselor to Tenet. He switched careers shortly after helping engineer the $2.5-billion merger of Alex Brown and Bankers Trust New York Corp., gaining $71-million in Bankers Trust stock.

Krongard is a graduate of Princeton and the University of Maryland Law School.

Farmers receiving drought funds

WASHINGTON _ The government began making $1.1-billion in payments Friday to 160,000 farmers who lost crops to drought and other weather-related disasters last year.

The totals could go higher, as the Agriculture Department said it will continue taking applications from farmers who want aid. The department has been under pressure from Congress to start sending checks to producers who already have been approved for the assistance.

Congress put no limit on the total amount of aid, and some officials have estimated it could reach $2-billion. USDA made $1.2-billion in disaster payments for 1999 crop losses.

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