Regulator exposes potential market manipulation by Enron

Ferc made the request after it released memos from Enron detailing dubious trading strategies used during the California energy crisis. The strategies described suggest that Enron’s activities in the spot power market during that period may have severely exacerbated supply problems and unfairly inflated cash and derivatives electricity prices.

The strategies included arbitrage plays where Enron bought cheap energy earmarked for export outside California, only to sell it back to California at inflated prices. According to Enron memos from December 2000, this strategy did not present any problems, other than public relations risks that the firm was contributing to California’s ‘emergency’.

Enron traders also traded strategies where they artificially increased the power loads detailed on schedules submitted to the California Independent System Operator, which has responsibility for balancing generation and loads on California’s power grid. These so-called ‘fat-boy’ trades made the grid appear more congested than it actually was – again driving prices above their fair value.

A number of US senators, most notably Dianne Feinstein from California, have asked for long-term wholesale electricity contracts signed during the crisis to be renegotiated.

Only users who have a paid subscription or are part of a corporate subscription are able to print or copy content.

To access these options, along with all other subscription benefits, please contact or view our subscription options here:

You are currently unable to copy this content. Please contact to find out more.

You need to sign in to use this feature. If you don’t have a account, please register for a trial.

Sign in
You are currently on corporate access.

To use this feature you will need an individual account. If you have one already please sign in.

Sign in.

Alternatively you can request an individual account here