Generators say they won’t give committee documents
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Houston-based Enron Corp. declined to turn over documents Thursday to a state Senate committee investigating possible price manipulation in California’s energy markets. A committee member said the panel may vote a contempt citation.
Enron and Reliant Energy, both wrote the Senate Select Committee to Investigate Market Manipulation that their documents are kept in Texas and thus outside the committee’s jurisdiction. Later, however, Reliant provided what it called 1,800 ”certain, nonconfidential documents.”
Sens. Steve Peace, D-Chula Vista, and Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, disputed Enron’s claim, saying previous legislative investigations have called on documents throughout the country and from overseas.
Representatives of the generators were expected to testify Thursday afternoon.
”We’re outraged by what has happened and the refusal of these companies to produce documents,” Bowen said. ”If they’ve done nothing, if they’ve got nothing to hide, there’s no reason” not to comply.
When asked how far the committee would be willing to go to compel the companies to produce the documents, Bowen said, ”It’s possible we’ll have to go back to 1929.”
That’s the last time a state Senate investigatory committee sought a contempt citation. It briefly jailed a balky witness during a committee’s investigation of price fixing and price gouging allegations involving the sale of cement to the state, said Laurence Drivon, the committee’s special counsel.
The committee has been negotiating with the companies over the conditions under which they would release the documents, including those that would remain confidential. The committee has also asked the generators to sign agreements not to destroy any potentially relevant documents.
So far, some companies have agreed verbally; none has signed an agreement.
”These are the same documents we requested April 5, and to date the summary is: three months, zero documents,” Drivon said.
Dynegy Energy Services has provided 18,000 documents, committee members said, although no one knows for sure what they include.
The Senate Rules Committee subpoenaed the documents – which include details on bidding, pricing and other aspects of power sales – earlier this month. Generators said they haven’t complied because they have not been able to negotiate an acceptable confidentiality agreement.
If the committee votes to seek contempt sanctions, it would ask the Senate to do so. There are no set penalties, Drivon said.
Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams said his company has turned over more than 200 boxes of material to the California Public Utilities Commission and has complied with document requests by the state attorney general and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
”We’re been working with this committee for weeks now, for over a month, without reaching agreement” on a confidentiality guarantee, Williams said. ”There’s proprietary information there, highly competitive information that no company could be expected to release without this sort of agreement.”
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