Greg Palast on Energy Deregulation

Ken Lay’s Alive!
by Greg Palast
July 19, 2006

Don’t check the casket. I know he’s back. When I saw those lights flickering out at La Guardia Airport yesterday and heard the eerie shrieks and moans in the dark, broiling subway tunnels, I just knew it: Ken Lay’s alive! We can see his spirit in every flickering lightbulb from Kansas to Queens as we head into America’s annual Blackout season.

It wasn’t always so. For decades, America had nearly the best, most reliable electricity system on the planet and, though we grumbled, electricity bills were among the planet’s lowest. It was all thanks to Franklin Roosevelt and the Public Utility Holding Company Act which allowed for tough regulation of the power monopolies. They were told what they could charge, the maximum profit they could take and — what I think about when the lights dim — exactly how much they had to invest to keep the juice flowing.

But then, in 1992, a Texas oil man, George H.W. Bush, ordered to evacuate the White House by two-thirds of the US electorate, gave his Houston crony, Ken Lay, a billion-dollar good-bye kiss: Bush’s signature authorizing deregulation of electricity.

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