ENRON and PGE (Portland General Electric)

Essay by doubtfullUniversity, Bachelor's March 2004

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The Players

Enron used whatever vehicle it had at its disposal to sell its scheme to the unsuspecting. In 1997 Enron found it was battling some environmentalists in Oregon; it planned to acquire Portland General Electric, Oregon's largest public utility. Warning that Enron's motives were of a highly predatory nature, the staff of the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC) opposed the merger. They warned that an Enron takeover would mean less ability to protect the environment, increased insecurity for PGE's workers and, in all likelihood, soaring prices. Other critics argued that Enron's actual plan was to cannibalize PGE, in particular its hydropower, which Enron would sell into California's energy market. Enron recruited the noted environmental utility guru, Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) to do their bidding. He also has ties to the Energy Foundation, a San Francisco-based coalition of environmental groups.

(A graduate of Yale University Law School), Ralph Cavanagh possesses impressive credentials.

In addition to his duties at the National Resources Defense Council, he is a past member of the Energy Engineering Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and a visiting professor at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. But it is in the trenches of utility policy reform that he has built his considerable reputation. Beginning in 1979, Mr. Cavanagh focused his efforts on the electric utility sector. He strived to make them more in line with the environment and less profit driven. He pushed for more conservation of energy resources throughout the Northwest. In 1996, he shared credit for the nation's most ambitious multi-state energy conservation partnership, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Additionally, both in the Pacific Northwest and California, Cavanagh had a reputation for working to guarantee that low-income citizens share equally in the benefits of sustainable energy...