I managed to work your explanation about why you went to San Francisco into this piece, and I'm glad you gave it because no one has heard your side of that story yet. And thanks for the Reuters plug during the conference call as well.
By the way, in listening to the tape of the interview, I realize I didn't explain why I thought the scene out there sounded like it was from a Stanley Kubrick movie. I heard there were folks in pig masks, and with the pie throwing, cops and cries of "Beat them!" it could have been an outtake from "A Clockwork Orange."
Anyway, thanks as always for your time and candor, the latter of which particularly makes covering Enron a real blast. And I want you to know that you have the single-best PR department I've ever run across. Karen, Mark, John and Vance deserve special mention for the number of phone calls they take from me, and for the expedition with which they respond. They always deliver the goods.
See you after the third quarter.
By C. Bryson Hull
HOUSTON, July 12 (Reuters) - The thus-far cool summer in California and the emergence of specifics about Enron Corp's <ENE.N< limited involvement in the embattled California power market should ease pressure on the energy giant's stock, the company's chief executive said on Thursday.
"I think we are going to get through the summer just fine. In terms of the financial impact on Enron, it's pretty much over," Enron President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling told Reuters in an interview.
The rhetorical attacks on the Houston company as an out-of-state generator ignore key facts about how much power Enron sold into California, he said.
"I don't know how they can keep using us as the poster child when all of the numbers keep coming out. The poster child ought to be the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power," Skilling said.
According to sales records maintained by the California Independent System Operator, which manages most of the state's power grid, Enron accounted for 0.4 percent of the alleged $9 billion in overcharges.
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is slated to decide if there was an overcharge to California, and if so, how much should be refunded.
The same records show that the L.A. municipal utility and other municipal utilities in the state overcharged PG&E Corp.'s <PCG.N< Pacific Gas and Electric and Edison International's <EIX.N< Southern California Edison utilities millions more than Enron did.
"I believe ultimately in the longer term, as people become more knowledgeable about the data and statistics, I don't think they'll harp on Enron so much," Skilling said.
Skilling has personally felt the nasty nature of the duel between California and "out-of-state power producers," the label California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, has used to blast energy companies like Enron. During a June 21 speech in San Francisco, a demonstrator threw a cream pie and hit Skilling in the face.
"I knew something was going to happen out there, but we wanted to get our facts out and show our commitment to getting the facts out," Skilling said of the reason for his visit.
After he was hit with the pie, Skilling calmly explained his and Enron's belief for the reasons behind California's power woes.
While Davis blames Enron and others for jacking up wholesale energy prices, the companies pinpoint California's flawed deregulation scheme and a rise in the price for natural gas as the main problems.
The latest manifestation of the flat-out war between California politicians and Enron is a California legislative committee's finding that Enron is in contempt for refusing to hand over confidential business documents in a probe into price gouging.
The California Senate believes the finding gives them the power to fine Enron and possibly jail its senior officers.
But just before the Senate Select Committee to Investigate Market Manipulation voted to hold Enron in contempt on Wednesday, the Houston company sued in a California court on a claim the legislature has no jurisdiction over them.
((Houston bureau, 713-210-8522, email@example.com))
Thursday, 12 July 2001 14:14:36
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