House committee opens energy price investigation


June 6, 2002 -- The House Energy and Commerce Committee has begun its own investigation into energy price manipulation in California.

House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) called for Congress to act more decisively to find out what happened in 2000 and 2001 when electric prices skyrocketed in the Western U.S. and especially California.

"The American people know that it is wrong to endanger lives and livelihoods by creating fake electricity shortages and rigging prices," Gephardt said Wednesday in a statement. "In light of this mounting evidence, Congress should investigate all the allegations of market manipulation and Enron corporate malfeasance. We must impose stiff penalties on corporate wrongdoers. Equally important, we need to get the facts on the table. We need to protect consumers, restore faith and trust in free and fair markets and ensure that this type of corporate malfeasance never happens again."

In addition to its planned interviews with people about energy trading strategies in 2000-2001 in California, the committee also is looking into the collapse of Enron and accounting practices, the Associated Press reported.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February launched a comprehensive investigation into possible energy price manipulation in U.S. Western markets, and the committee plans to ask FERC for a confidential briefing on the issue.

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