Monday, January 30, 2006

Enron -- father of modern windpower

On the occasion of the Enron trials beginning today, it seems apt to bring up the fact that Enron pioneered large-scale wind energy on the grid in the U.S. They bought Zond Wind Systems, which after Enron's fire sale was bought by General Electric. Key to Enron's success was deregulation of the electricity market, so that it could more easily be manipulated by developers and brokers such as Enron without having to worry about the whole expensive package of energy delivery, i.e., infrastructure maintenance.

They also transformed wind power from an experimental alternative in tune with the environment into an industry that mocks environmental concerns.

And it worked, as long as people believed in it. But when California was subject to rolling blackouts which turned out to be caused by Enron's efforts to jack up prices, the project became suspect.

The line of defense for the Enron team today is that they did not know everything was collapsing around them, that the lies they told investors and auditors were not lies, because they really believed everything was great (which it still was, I suppose, for them).

Their heirs in the wind power development business do them proud. The larger public -- and worse, major environmental groups -- still believe, without any evidence to back up the industry's claims and seemingly oblivious to the impact on land and life.

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