Government regulators handed a major victory to Western utilities and cities trying to get out of exorbitant contracts they made with Enron Corp. during the power crisis of 2000-01.In May, FERC will hold a hearing about whether Enron can collect profits it would have received on those fraudulent contracts. A ruling will come later.
In an order issued Friday evening, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined that Enron was engaging in illegal activity at the time it entered in the contracts. It was the first time the commission has acknowledged that the contracts were signed under fraudulent pretenses.
Snohomish County Washington is among the communities trying to prevent Enron from collecting $122 million related to contracts signed before it went bust. My old friend Eric Christensen who is an attorney for the Snohomish Public Utility District (PUD) is again helping to lead the anti-Enron fight:
"This is a very significant order for us," said Eric Christensen, a lawyer for the district. "We've now put in place all the essential legal groundwork to make sure Enron is not able to collect any further unjust profits from us."Eric was a tenacious researcher in college.
FERC has already demanded that Enron give up $32.5 million in unjust profit, but Snohomish's investigators have estimated that the company gouged Western customers for at least $1.1 billion.