Synopsis by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
In 2000, rolling blackouts in California made front-page news. The state's electric bill had gone from seven billion in 1999 to 27 million dollars in 2000. A 40-dollar kilowatt hour now cost as much as 1,900 dollars. The reason for the shortage, though, was unclear. Within the Bush administration, many argued that past government regulation restricted the market from responding to the crisis. Others, including Governor Gray Davis, believed Enron and Duke Power were squeezing the market. Complaints and lawsuits were filed, accusing these companies of manipulating markets to increase profits. At the bottom of the crisis lay the deregulation of many power plants that allowed third parties to act as power-supply brokers. When private companies assumed ownership of power plants in California and other states, they were free to sell kilowatt-hours to companies like Enron. Enron, in turn, sold the kilowatts on the open market for the going price. Frontline: Blackout includes interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney, Governor Gray Davis, and a number of state and federal officials.
blackout [power loss], crisis, deregulation, disaster, petition, power-company, power-failure, power-plant, price-war, public-utilities