Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The little utility that could

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I'm proud of my utility, the Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD). Like everyone, there are times when I complain about prices and so forth. But this utility just won a case against Enron when the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) ruled that the PUD did not have to pay $120 million for canceling it's contract with the corrupt energy provider. (OK, time for acronym mania!). The FERC ruled that the PUD entered into the contract not knowing that Enron was committing fraud to obtain insanely inflated energy prices.

In order to win this battle, the Snohomish PUD took on a battle not only against Enron, but also against the FERC. When the PUD wanted transcripts of audio tapes to use as evidence in court against Enron, the FERC at first balked at providing them. Only when the FERC came under pressure from Congressional members (including Senator Maria Cantwell) and the courts did the FERC relent. Once the transcripts were provided, the PUD (which had refused to settle the case under Enron's terms) released them to the public. Only then was the extent of the real scandal exposed. We could finally read what those rat bastards had to say about scamming "grandmothers" in California for over-priced energy and how they went about doing it. In addition the PUD uncovered accounting books and other evidence of the fraud. Their investigative work in this case was tremendous and they deserve to be congratulated for fighting the battle rather than rolling over. The FERC should also be commended on their ruling, despite having to be drug into doing the right thing tooth and nail. In the end, they did the correct thing.

Praise to PUD! Lest dear reader wonders if we're going to see rates fall, let me put that to rest. The answer is not likely. The PUD wanted to apply the amount to lowering our rates. However, since the salmon on various rivers is coming under federal protection, the damns which provide our energy needs will have to be re-designed and other environmental improvements will be needed. The money, which has been set aside, will instead go to those improvements. Still, we would have been required to make those improvements anyhow and if we didn't have this settlement, then it would have been even more costly.

No worries. I'd rather see the money go towards the salmon - a northwest cause - rather towards paying Enron's investors. As much as I hate to see many of those investors suffer, they were defrauded by the same crooks that defrauded us. Two wrongs wouldn't make any of this right, but the FERC ruling has made at least part of the equation better.

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