SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Gov. Gray Davis on Thursday ordered the Legislature to return next month for a special session to craft a rescue deal for Southern California Edison.

Edison, the state's second-largest utility, ran up $3.9 billion in debts last year because of spiraling wholesale electricity costs. By law, the utility was not allowed to pass the higher costs on to customers.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., also ran up billions in debts and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

``This is a time of great economic uncertainty,'' Davis said. ``Another utility bankruptcy is not in anyone's interest.''

Davis announced in April that he and Edison had agreed on a rescue plan, which included having the state buy the utility's transmission lines for $2.76 billion. It would allow Edison to sell bonds to cover the remaining debt.

The Senate and Assembly each passed their versions of the plan this summer. But the two houses couldn't reconcile their plans before the regular session adjourned Sept. 15.

On Thursday, Gray ordered lawmakers to return in special session Oct. 9.

PG&E filed its reorganization plan last week.