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Interviews
Severin Borenstein
Director of the University of California Energy Institute and a professor of business at the Haas School of Business at California-Berkeley, Borenstein also is on the board of governors of the California Power Exchange. Borenstein, who is not opposed to deregulating the energy markets, says that politics overshadowed sound policy when California's plan was drafted.
Vice President Dick Cheney
Vice president of the U.S., Cheney is chairman of President George W. Bush's task force on energy policy. Before assuming the vice presidency, Cheney was chief executive officer and chairman of Dallas-based Halliburton Company, which bills itself as the world's largest services company for the oil industry. Cheney believes that the energy markets should be deregulated, and that the federal government's regulatory obligations should be diminished as much as possible.
Governor Gray Davis
Davis, a Democrat, was elected governor of California in 1998. While Davis says he's suspending judgment on the merits of deregulation, he thinks that California's plan was deeply flawed. Further, he says that the energy companies who profited wildly from California's energy crisis should help fund the state's recovery efforts. At the time of this interview, Davis' advisers were negotiating settlement alternatives with some of those power companies.
David Freeman
Freeman has run five public power authorities -- the Tennessee Valley Authority, the New York Power Authority, the Lower Colorado River Authority in Texas, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and, most recently, the L.A. Department of Water & Power (DWP). Freeman worked for the Federal Power Commission during President John F. Kennedy's administration, and he became the first person to coordinate the national energy policy under President Lyndon Johnson. Freeman left DWP in April 2001 to become the state energy adviser to California Governor Gray Davis. Freeman says that electricity, which he calls the "oxygen of modern civilization," should not be allowed to fluctuate in price and reliability on the open market.
Robert Glynn
Glynn is chairman and chief executive officer of PG&E Corp., which owns California's Pacific Gas & Electric Company. In April 2001, Pacific Gas & Electric filed for bankruptcy, declaring that it had accumulated $9 billion in debt. Critics, however, say that at the height of the crisis in California when energy prices were soaring, PG&E Corp. diverted Pacific Gas & Electric profits to another one of its subsidiaries, National Energy Group of Bethesda, Md., in effect creating a protective "ring fence" around those diverted monies. National Energy Group, meanwhile, now reportedly ranks as the nation's third-largest power trader.
Curt Hebert
Hebert, a former Mississippi utility regulator who is often regarded as a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), was named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President George W. Bush in January 2001. A Republican, Hebert was first nominated to FERC in 1997 by former President Bill Clinton. During Hebert's tenure, FERC has been criticized for being too laissez faire, and Hebert's critics accuse him of being a free market ideologue.
Nettie Hoge
Hoge is the executive director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a utility watchdog and consumer advocacy group based in San Francisco. Hoge says that electricity is an essential commodity that should not be left prone to the vagaries of the free market, and that FERC has abdicated its responsibilities of enforcing "just and reasonable" rates and has become instead an apologist for the free market system.
Ken Lay
Lay was Enron Corp.'s first chairman and chief executive officer, taking the helm of the Houston company in 1986. Enron is a leader in the so-called energy merchant sector, where companies trade wholesale electricity and hedge risks by charging its customers premiums to insulate them from price fluctuations. In 2000, Enron's annual revenues surpassed the $100 billion mark, more than doubling its revenue of $40 billion in 1999. Critics charge that Enron earned such record revenues by exploiting the California market.
Loretta Lynch
Lynch is the president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates the state's privately owned electric and natural gas companies. She was appointed to the CPUC in March 2000 by California Governor Gray Davis. In March 2001, Lynch and the other CPUC commissioners voted unanimously to raise retail electricity rates by an average of 40 percent, reportedly the highest rate increase in California history. Lynch says that such rate hikes were necessary because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had refused to step in to the California market and offer relief by capping wholesale electricity rates.
Richard Priory
Priory is chairman and chief executive officer of Duke Energy, a power-generating company based in North Carolina. He believes that a deregulated, free market in electricity is the only way to send appropriate signals to consumers and to normalize power supply and demand. Like Enron Corp., Duke Energy's annual revenues increased dramatically, rising from $21 billion in 1999 to $49 billion in 2000.
Ron Rattey
Rattey, a senior staff economist at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), wrote a memorandum in June 2000 that he distributed by email to his colleagues at FERC. In it, he describes FERC staff as "impotent in our ability to monitor, foster, and ensure competitive electric power markets." Here, he talks about why he decided to come forward with his criticisms of FERC.
William Richardson
Richardson, the Secretary of Energy from 1998-2001 during the Clinton administration, is now teaching at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Regulated monopoly utilities, says Richardson, have left the U.S. with a "Third World power grid" and he believes that deregulated electricity markets can work. He criticizes the Bush administration's plans to increase power supply sources without focusing equal attention on conservation efforts and trying to mitigate demand.
Jeff Skilling
Skilling joined Enron in 1990, and in February 2001 he became the company's president and chief executive officer. In the regulated electricity markets, says Skilling, consumers were paying twice as much as they should have for power. But since power transmission is a natural monopoly, he says, regulation is necessary in order to ensure that companies have open access to the pipes.
Frank Wolak
Wolak is a professor of economics at Stanford University. He is also chairman of the Market Surveillance Committee of the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the flow of electricity along the bulk of California's transmission grid. Wolak details the shortcomings of California's deregulation plan, and says that the plan allowed energy companies to exercise market power.
Pat Wood
Formerly the chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, Wood was nominated to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President George W. Bush in March 2001. It has been widely reported, in fact, that President Bush favors Wood to replace current FERC Chairman Curt Hebert. While Wood supports electricity deregulation, he says that the markets must accommodate some form of regulation to prevent market abuse.


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