Dunn May Force Release of Report ?Deadly? to CAISO

By Published On: October 10, 2003

A confidential report that State Senator Joe Dunn considers ?deadly to the California Independent System Operator? is not being released to the public fast enough. Dunn said this week that if CAISO doesn?t release the report ?soon,? he will do it himself. The author of the report, attorney Michael Strumwasser, however, said the release of its final version ?is not imminent.? The report and the politics surrounding it could decimate the grid operator, according to the chair of its board. The report is an investigation of internal workings at the grid manager during the state?s energy crisis. In particular, the report covers CAISO?s transactions with the scheduling arm of the Department of Water Resources (DWR)?the state government agency that was buying power when utilities lost the financial wherewithal to do so. DWR had reported to the Senate Select Committee to Investigate Price Manipulation of the Wholesale Energy Market, a committee chaired by Dunn (D-Santa Ana), that CAISO asked it to schedule ?fictitious load? in order to balance the grid. ?We do not believe these were simply the misdeeds of errant mid-level employees. Our investigation has persuaded us that the events we have investigated were the easy consequences of a culture that does not respect institutions with which the ISO must work, is not committed to the rules under which the ISO must operate, and does not elicit the highest ethical conduct from those who represent the corporation,? read a part of the report made public during a Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications hearing last month. ?These events also indicate poor coordination of decision making across organizational units and insufficient quality control in the [CAISO] General Counsel?s office.? CAISO has maintained that ?fictitious load? was not what it said, or requested. While CAISO will not go on the record, several inside and outside the organization have deemed it a personal battle between Dunn and CAISO chief executive officer Terry Winter. Michael Kahn, CAISO chair, defended the organization, but in his simultaneous role as Governor Gray Davis?s recall election counsel, he noted that politics such as that embodied in the report just might destroy the grid operator. One source close to the proceedings said that it was not the load scheduling itself but the cover-up that magnifies the politics and rankles legislators. ?It?s damned damning,? said Senator Bill Morrow (R-Carlsbad), who sits on Dunn?s investigative committee. ?As soon as the election?s over . . . we need to either abolish the ISO and create a new structure that you [the legislature] has absolute control over, or we need to have our senators and Congresspeople go to Congress and make [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] do what we need,? Kahn said. ?I think we are making some progress in breaking down some of those attitudes that are ingrained,? Mike Florio, CAISO board member and The Utility Reform Network senior attorney, added. ?We are trying to address this and achieve the kind of relationship that we should have had all along with this legislature.?

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now