In 2000, I remember traveling in Northern California. I was sitting in a restaurant for breakfast at 9:00am when all of a sudden all the lights went out. Fortunately, I already had my food. I finished my breakfast by the sunlight coming through the windows, paid cash, and left. The restaurant had to shut down because the kitchen didn’t have any outside light or power.
This was the time of the California rolling blackouts. We were told that there were problems with the power grid, and supply and demand. During that time, our rates for electricity in San Diego doubled and tripled, and we got astronomical power bills from SDG&E.
Over a year later, on December 2, 2001, Enron collapsed. Only then did we find out that there were a few people who called themselves “the smartest guys in the room” who had manipulated the electricity market and not only caused the outrageous prices but also ordered plants shut down for no reason at times of highest demand. Their hands were in our pockets and we didn’t know it.
In the aftermath, one guy committed suicide, a few went to jail, but the great majority took their money and went about their business. Thousands of people all over the country lost their life savings. Their pensions were in Enron stock, since their mom-and-pop power company was bought up by these “smartest guys in the room.”
But that was all more than ten years ago.
When gasoline jumped from $4.19 to $4.69 at my local gas station within five days last week, I remembered Enron. I wonder how long it will take before we find out who is stealing the money out of our pockets right now?