Monday, March 03, 2003

Hey, Mr. Ashcroft....

If you could find a bit of time in your busy schedule - you know, inbetween confiscating bongs and hunting down prostitutes in New Orleans - could you look into prosecuting these guys?

Sacramento -- California officials said Sunday they have proof that 85 percent of the state's energy costs during the 18-month power crisis were influenced by illegal market behavior by dozens of power providers.

A 1,000-page report to be filed today with federal regulators accuses the traders -- including some of the nation's largest power companies and the utility run by the city of Los Angeles -- of darkening power plants, using illegal energy trading schemes and conspiring together to drive up electricity prices and rip off consumers.

In a final push for refunds, Gov. Gray Davis, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state regulators also allege that some companies destroyed documents to hide unscrupulous business practices that led to at least $7.5 billion in excess costs that California ratepayers are still paying for.


"We finally have put together thousands of documents that make a very strong case," Davis said. "The massive coverup by the generators is unraveling.

The evidence of market manipulation is so overwhelming even the FERC can't hide from it."


She said Reliant Resources, Williams/AES, Dynegy, Mirant Corp. and Duke Energy all deliberately shut power plants they ran in California in order to create scarcity and earn higher profits.

She said Sempra Energy, Mirant, Dynegy, Reliant, Williams and Canadian- based PowerEx all used a trading strategy similar to an Enron scheme called "Fat Boy," in which the companies knowingly submitted false data to the state's power grid operators.

Lawyers culled through thousands of internal company documents, listened to hundreds of hours of tape-recorded conversations among traders and deposed energy executives to build their case.