Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Enron Lives! Were Texas Utilities Gaming the System to Gouge Customers?

These are the guys you want doing the "trade" part of cap-and-trade?
So much of this climate and/or energy stuff was originally cooked up by the crooked E that we ended up with hundreds of posts on a defunct company.
From the serious:

Some Drive-by Climate Biz History (Enron and Cap-and-trade)

and Enron on the Kyoto Protocol:
December 12, 1997
Implications of the Climate Change Agreement in Kyoto and What Transpired
it begins:
If implemented, this agreement will do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries...
And ends:
This agreement will be good for Enron's stock!
To "Fun With Enron Emails" and "Enron:The Musical (ENE)"

From "Wall Street Learned the Lessons of Enron (Unfortunately)" to "Brian Hunter, Natural Gas and Enron" and the subject at hand "Blackout: Enron and the California Power Crisis (Transcript)".
Here's the Wall Street Journal, yesterday:

Texas to Probe Rolling Blackouts 
Texas officials have ordered an investigation into rolling blackouts that struck the state's electric grid last week, including whether market manipulation played a role along with harsh weather in disrupting natural-gas and electricity supplies to millions of people.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas asked the state's independent energy-market monitor, Daniel Jones, to conduct a probe to see if power generators, pipeline companies or others broke market rules. Among the questions are whether some firms faked power-plant problems to push prices higher, or were slow to restart plants that were off line.
Mr. Jones, vice president of Potomac Economics in Austin, said he could not comment until his team has completed its investigation, which could take weeks or months.
To be sure, Texas set an all-time winter power demand record one day during the storm, placing historic pressure on power providers.
Electricity-grid officials said Mr. Jones' team will look at price patterns and power-plant outages remembering that, in California's energy crisis of 2000-2001, unscrupulous power generators feigned equipment problems to drive up the price of electricity. A significant number of plants in Texas failed last week, and wholesale electricity prices briefly spiked.
The state Senate committee that oversees the state utility commission will conduct hearings on the blackouts, said its chairman, Sen. Troy Fraser, a Republican whose district includes central Texas.
The organization that runs the Texas grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or Ercot, is considering whether it should require better weatherization at power plants. Trip Doggett, chief executive of the group, said it "will be working with generation owners to understand why and what can be done" to prevent the sort of breakdowns that destabilized the state's electrical network. Among other problems, the breakdowns were caused by equipment freezing and cracking.
Generation companies said they are ready to answer any questions and are confident they followed the rules. Representatives of Luminant and NRG Energy Inc., which own many power plants in Texas, said extreme cold forced outages they couldn't prevent and they got plants back up quickly.
David Knox, spokesman for NRG, said "our guys worked throughout the night" on Feb 2-3 to get the Limestone power plant back in service after a freeze-related problem broke equipment enabling the plant to send power to a substation....MORE
The article goes on to describe the interplay between the natural gas providers and the electricity producers.
A few of my favorite Enron/NatGas posts:
The man who lost $6 billion (Brian Hunter, Amaranth)
And many more.