California could be out at least $1.3 billion for emergency electricity before lawmakers construct a long-term fix to the state”s botched deregulation program.

Lawmakers want to negotiate a deal for wholesale electricity contracts for up to 10 years to avoid a power crunch in the coming decade.

The state took just 12 days to spend $400 million approved earlier this month by the Legislature to buy electricity for financially strapped Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Both have been denied credit by suppliers, and say they are $12.7 billion in debt because of soaring wholesale power prices. The state”s deregulation law bars them from recouping their costs from customers.

Gov. Gray Davis ordered the state Monday to spend up to $400 million to buy power with money from the Department of Water Resources budget.

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