Public Pays for Enron Misdeedsby Editorial Board
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 9, 2004
Former Enron CEO Ken Lay finally is going to get his well-deserved day in court, as a criminal defendant. But the Northwest, like much of the country, continues to pay for the misdeeds of Enron, the politicians who promoted electricity privatization and the regulators who looked the other way.
The Enron fiasco hurts ratepayers daily with higher costs that grew out of the 2000-01 West Coast energy crisis. In Snohomish County, where Enron's new leaders are suing to enforce a predatory long-term contract, school districts alone stand to be socked with an extra $2.5 million in electric bills.
Even the Pacific Northwest's environment took a hit from Enron this week. The Bonneville Power Administration won permission to go ahead with its misguided plan to sell more electricity by reducing the amount of water spilled to protect salmon. The pressure to place earnings over the environment would be less severe if it weren't for the economic effects of the energy crisis.
It's a relief that the federal government has brought charges against the former head of a corporation that cheated the public of billions of dollars. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has done little to relieve consumers of the continuing costs. Little wonder. As Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., points out, Enron was involved with President Bush's appointment of two FERC commissioners, including Chairman Pat Wood.
Market manipulation flourished under a commission that neglected its duty to intelligently regulate electricity. If found guilty, Lay will be punished. But either way, the public pays.
Related Pages: Enron's Real Obscenity is Continuing Cost of 'Crisis' Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/9/4
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