Seven Reasons to Reject "The Deal" from NW Natural Gas
1. It includes secret multi-million dollar bonuses for PGE executives.
Oregonian, Feb 2: "The bonuses apparently exceed $2 million, judging from comments by a utility lawyer representing industrial power users at a PUC meeting this week."
NY Times, Feb 2: "Many details of the deal, including its impact on customers and the size of the executives' bonuses, are unknown because Enron sealed most of the documents it filed with the utility commission."
2. It places a huge financial burden on ratepayers.
NY Times, Feb 2: "Electric rates would remain high here, corporate and consumer critics said, because the money for this deal would carry high junk-bond interest rates and require rapid repayment both to investors and to lenders led by Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse First Boston. The sale would also impose costs that would, in effect, force the average customer to lend the company $260 interest free, indefinitely, according to a group of industrial energy users."
3. It requires ratepayers to pay $188 million in "phantom taxes."
NY Times, Feb 2: "The deal would force customers to pay an additional $188 million in "phantom taxes" over six years, according to Energy Advocates, which represents major natural gas customers in Portland."
4. It jeopardizes the financial stability of NW Natural Gas.
NY Times, Feb 2: "Several witnesses warned that if business conditions worsen, or exceptionally mild weather prevails, the combined company would have trouble paying back the $1.4 billion in debt. Then the company would have to raise electric and gas rates further to avoid bankruptcy, they said."
5. It makes Enron (or its creditors) the largest shareholder in both PGE and NW Natural Gas!
Oregonian, Feb 2: "In addition, the transaction involves $250 million in seller financing. The package of common and preferred stock would give Enron a 4.9 percent stake in the newly combined company and two seats on the board."
6. Important Elements of "The Deal" are Secret and Removed from Public Scrutiny.
7. Its Business As Usual!
Look who makes the decisions on our behalf. The Chair of the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC), Roy Hemmingway, was previously employed by PGE to run its political campaigns to keep the Trojan Nuclear Plant open. According to the New York Times, at the January 29, hearing before the OPUC, "...no ordinary citizens, or Oregon journalists, observed the two hours of testimony, parts of which were also missed by Commissioner Lee Byers, who arrived late and repeatedly nodded off." The people of Oregon deserve better. Call or write your State Senator and State Representative. Ask them to activate the State Power Authority under Article 11D of Oregon's Constitution. Once activated, Oregon can acquire PGE's assets by eminent domain, and free it from the jurisdiction of the federal bankruptcy court in New York. Imagine Oregon's energy resources managed in the public interest by a publicly elected commission in charge of your State Power Authority!
Dan Meek (503) 293-9021 www.voters.net Lloyd Marbet (503) 637-3549