California cap & trade an Enron redux?

Sunday’s column on California’s new cap and trade law, which is available on houstonchronicle.com:

Somewhere, Grandma Millie is shaking her head in despair.

Millie, in case you’ve forgotten, was a fictional California widow personified in recordings of Enron traders who gamed the state’s electricity markets more than a decade ago.

The traders laughed about stealing from bleeping “Grandma Millie” after charging her $250 a megawatt hour for power and leaving her in the dark.

Millie’s suffering has faded from California’s consciousness as the state again prepares to meddle in manipulated markets. This time, it’s adopting a cap-and-trade system to restrict carbon emissions, a “market” disturbingly similar in structure to Enron’s former playground.

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About The Author

Loren Steffy is the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle. His column appears in on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He is also the author of "Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit," and "The Man Who Thought Like a Ship."