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.
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
"OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California
market to the tune of a million bucks or two a
day," replies the first.
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
you took down the steamer, how long would it take
to get it back up?" an Enron worker is heard
it's not something you want to just be turning
on and off every hour. Let's put it that way,"
why don't you just go ahead and shut her down."
with the Snohomish Public Utility District near
Seattle received the tapes from the Justice Department.
is the evidence we've all been waiting for. This
proves they manipulated the market," said
Eric Christensen, a spokesman for the utility.
utility, like many others, is trying to get its
money back from Enron.
The traders continue ...
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
grandma Millie, man"
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."
the tapes appear to link top Enron officials Ken
Lay and Jeffrey Skilling to schemes that fueled
Affairs has to prove how valuable it is to Ken
Lay and Jeff Skilling," says one trader.
"Ok." - "Do you know when you started
over-scheduling load and making buckets of money
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
says one Enron worker.
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
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.
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."