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Regulator: Report On Enron 'Solid'

Jan 1, 2002 | AP

However, Pat Wood, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a news conference that his agency's report was a first step and regulators are still conducting their investigation, which could result in other energy companies being cited for their practices.

"It's an initial report. The analysis of Enron's trading strategy was very instructive. I think it was pretty solid," Wood said. The companies mentioned will have their day in court."

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a report Tuesday that concluded that once mighty energy giant Enron, which filed for bankruptcy protection last December, engaged in price manipulation and deceit in its dealings with the volatile California power market.

The report said the company earned tens of millions of dollars from energy deals involving questionable trading tactics and hidden relationships.

The report, which looked at transactions in 2000 and 2001, urged further investigation into "possible misconduct" charges against three Enron affiliate companies and two investor-owned utilities that did extensive business with Houston-based Enron.

"We have been and are continuing to cooperate fully with all investigations," said Enron spokesman Karen Denne.

California Gov. Gray Davis called the preliminary report "a whitewash" and complained the commission still "hasn't sanctioned anybody."

"I look forward to the end of the political season when the old Gov. Davis I first got to know a year ago comes back," Wood said.

"As enforcement (is concerned), it's not a kangaroo court that I run. We found there is sufficient evidence, as a grand jury would, to merit a formal charge before a judge, which in this case was the commission. I'm sorry they didn't read the full report."

Wood, the former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission, was back in the state for the first time since being named the commission's chairman last year.

He met in Houston with representatives of about 30 energy companies, including Reliant Resources Inc., and discussed the current state of the industry.

Wood said he asked people attending the closed meeting what his agency could do from the regulatory side and what can the companies do to restore confidence in consumers and investors.

"A forum like this was great," he said. "You see the leaders from these companies and you see how important it is to put a human face on the energy industry. As a Texan who lives outside of Texas now, everyone expects you to have a hat and boots...and see how you can take advantage of the next Californian. I think that's a disservice."

Wood also spoke to the inaugural class of the University of Houston's new Energy Risk Management certificate program, which trains aspiring and veteran energy professionals.

"Energy is important to this community, energy is important to this country," Wood told the students. "Keeping it going forward, you have to have people who hold themselves to the highest professional standards."

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