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Industry News

LADWP Trader Conversations Subject of Investigation

LCG, June 28, 2002--The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power may have been involved in transactions similar to a type described in Enron memos as "ricochet," which type would involve power being sold outside California, then bought back per an agreement with the original buyer.

Hearings held by a California senate committee yesterday focused on transcripts of conversations between traders with the LADWP; the California Independent System Operator; the energy marketer Constellation; and the PG&E National Energy Group. Larry Drivon, an attorney with Sen. Joe Dunn's investigative committee, was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as asserting, "The net effect of this transaction was to take megawatts sold in Southern California at $50 to $75 a megawatt-hour and ... turn those into megawatts which were returned to California at what we believe was $250 a megawatt-hour."

The hearing covered one point in a conversation in November, 2000, which a trader for the LADWP apparently reacted negatively to another trader's having given more information to the ISO about a transaction than the LADWP trader thought necessary. The transaction was one in which the same power was bought and sold several times, with the final price five times the original sale price.

An e-mail written by a trader with PG&E cautioned the recipient to "beware of ricochets" involving the LADWP.

LADWP's manager of wholesale trading, Mark Ward, said at the hearing that within LADWP, "ricochet" was different from Enron's definition, because power stayed within California. The Senate has held off on confirming David S. Freeman, the then-head of the LADWP, as the chairman of the state Public Power Authority pending further inquiry.
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