Simon: investigate energy crisis

The Associated Press
Friday May 31, 2002

SACRAMENTO – The state’s energy traders and grid operators should be investigated by U.S. attorney’s office to determine if they manipulated California’s energy market, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon said Thursday. 

U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, appearing with Simon in Sacramento, said Democratic Gov. Gray Davis should give investigators his internal documents as part of any investigation of the state’s energy crisis. 

“Open the governor’s office. Let’s see the governor’s calendar. Who did he meet with and what did they talk about? Let’s start at the top,” Ose said. 

A state Senate committee is investigating the energy crisis, including the state’s power grid operators at the Independent System Operator. The committee recently released a transcript of ISO officials asking state energy traders to buy unnecessary power at above-market rates, which the state later had to sell at a loss. 

The state attorney general is also investigating whether energy suppliers manipulated California’s market. 

Simon said his energy plan would include renegotiating the long-term energy contracts the state entered last year, and encouraging new power plant production — both things Davis has undertaken. 

Davis announced in April that the state had renegotiated some of those contracts, saving $3 billion, and talks are continuing with other energy companies. 

Davis issued executive orders in early 2001 that gave incentives to companies to build power plants. Since then, a dozen plants have began producing power or will be operating by summer. 

But Simon said that’s not enough to ensure the state has adequate reserves of electricity. 

“Contrary to what Gov. Davis has said, there are not a lot of plants in the pipeline in terms of construction,” he said. 

Davis’ campaign spokesman Roger Salazar said Simon has been “as quick to condemn the administration as he is reticent to condemn the energy companies for what they did to California.”