When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.
“Burn, baby, burn. That’s a beautiful thing,” a trader sang about the massive fire.
Four years after California’s disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard on audiotapes obtained by CBS News gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.
“He just f s California,” says one Enron employee. “He steals money from California to the tune of about a million.”
“Will you rephrase that?” asks a second employee.
“OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day,” replies the first.
The tapes, from Enron’s West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down.
“They’re f g taking all the money back from you guys?” complains an Enron employee on the tapes. “All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?”
“Yeah, grandma Millie, man”
“Yeah, now she wants her f g money back for all the power you’ve charged right up, jammed right up her a for f g $250 a megawatt hour.”
Before the 2000 election, Enron employees pondered the possibilities of a Bush win.
“It’d be great. I’d love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy,” says one Enron worker.
That didn’t happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices.
“When this election comes Bush will f g whack this s t, man. He won’t play this price-cap b t.”
Crude, but true.
“We will not take any action that makes California’s problems worse and that’s why I oppose price caps,” said Mr. Bush on May 29, 2001.
Both the Justice Department and Enron tried to prevent the release of these tapes. Enron’s lawyers argued they merely prove “that people at Enron sometimes talked like Barnacle Bill the Sailor.”
Okay, John Kerry that one has just been delivered to you gift wrapped with a lovely bow.