A correction on California's energy crisis

Enron's pick for FERC chair was not the man responsible for a slow federal response to the electricity deregulation debacle

By Andrew Leonard

Published February 3, 2009 8:20PM (EST)

Despite conducting what I thought was due diligence on getting the timeline on California's electricity deregulation crisis correct, I appear to have completely bungled it in my post, "Introducing the Commissioner of Renewable Energy," published Wednesday.

Mr. Leonard:

Thank you for your column about our new Acting Chairman, Jon Wellinghoff ("Introducing the Chairman of Renewable Energy," January 27). He would very much like to talk with you once the "acting" designation is removed from his title.

However, your column contained an error regarding who was FERC Chairman during what portion of the California energy crisis of 2000-2001. We respectfully request a correction.

You wrote:

"As the crisis spiked and electricity prices shot sky-high, California's governor, Gray Davis, begged FERC to impose price caps. But while Vice President Cheney scoffed, the chairman of the commission, Pat Wood, who had been hand-picked for the job by Enron's CEO, Ken Lay, did nothing."

Pat Wood was not Chairman of FERC at the time of the price spikes. The price spikes were in 2000 and early 2001. The FERC Chairman in 2000 was James Hoecker. Curt Hebert replaced James Hoecker as Chairman after George W. Bush became President in January 2001, and remained Chairman until August 2001. During then-Chairman Hebert's tenure, FERC instituted the West-wide price caps. Pat Wood did not become Chairman of FERC until September 1, 2001.

Thank you, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Mary O'Driscoll

Director, Division of Press Services

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Cheney did scoff, and Pat Wood was strongly supported by Enron's Ken Lay, but there's no excuse for my abuse of the historical record.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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