Friday, May 26, 2006

Enron Verdicts & California

LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch)
Former Enron Chairman Ken Lay and former President Jeffrey Skilling may spend decades behind bars for the harm they did to the company's investors, but the two fallen executives are unlikely to face charges for damages the energy-trading behemoth caused in California...

S. David Freeman, who chaired the California Power Authority and headed efforts to probe the crisis, said the litany of wrongdoings by Enron in California is long.

He said the crisis nearly bankrupted the state; forced Pacific Gas & Electric into a bankruptcy from which it emerged in 2004; and, to some extent, brought about the downfall of Davis, likely short-circuiting his higher political ambitions and paving the way for Arnold Schwarzenegger's governorship of the most populous U.S. state.

Along the way millions of ratepayers/taxpayers were stuck with their portions of the tab for drastically costlier power -- with rates often triple what they'd been before the crisis.

The state, itself near bankruptcy's brink, was forced to extend loans to power companies such as PG&E and Southern California Edison so the utilities could stay afloat.