At a press conference held at outside Flagstaff City Hall on 4/5/2002, Black Mesa Trust (BMT) responded to a recent resolution by Hopi Tribal Council to work with Houston based Reliant Energy on a joint coal powered energy plant to be built on Black Mesa.
Vernon Masayesva, BMT Executive Director and former Hopi Tribal Chairman, alleged that the Hopi Tribal Council passed the resolution without full knowledge of Hopi tribe members and that the council may have "have violated procurement procedures by agreeing to work with one company." The resolution was passed after the Council suspended its own procedural rules and considered the matter during a session scheduled to be devoted to hearing reports from various Hopi task teams.
Stating that there are many other energy companies who would want to submit a proposal to develop energy resources on Hopi land, especially those utilizing renewable energy sources, Masayesva wondered, "Why Reliant... was selected has not been explained to the public."
"I am beginning to believe that the Bush-Cheney national energy policy is focused on Indian lands and that they are going to continue siting hazardous materials dumps and pollution-generating coal-fired power plants on our homelands," stated BMT President Leonard Selestewa.
Reliant Company Donations and Information
According to the website opensecrets.org, Reliant Energy donated $100,000 to the Bush-Cheney 2001 Presidential Inauguration. In addition, Reliant rated the 12th top Electric Utilities contributor during the 2002 election cycle with donations totalling $213,581 of which 72% was given to the Republican Party.
Also found at the opensecret's site is an article on the campaign behind the Bush Energy Plan. According to that article Reliant donated $584,606 to The American Taxpayers Alliance, a group headed by former Bush and Dole campaign advisor Scott Reed.
As mentioned in a previous article on Arizona IMC's website, Thomas Glanville, president of Reliant Energy Ventures for Reliant Resources, Inc. and vice president of technology and new ventures for its parent company, Reliant Energy, Incorporated, had previously worked for Enron between 1991 and 1998. According to the Reliant website.
(According to the Houston Chronicle, during this timeframe Enron acquired their first pipeline presence in South America and began construction of the controversial Dabhol power plant in India).
In addition, a Reliant press release issued on 3/4/2002 announces the promotion of William S. Waller Jr. to Treasurer of Reliant Resources. Previously, Mr. Waller had "worked at the International Finance Corporation, which is the private sector arm of the World Bank, in Washington D.C., with a focus on financing the construction of power plants in developing countries."
(Information on the IMF and World Bank can be found at ZNet's A Q&A on the WTO, IMF, World Bank, and Activism).
Given these connections to the World Bank, Enron, and the Bush/Cheney Energy Commission and the history of Black Mesa, it is no wonder that Mr. Masayesva stated at the conference, "What we have here is the making of an energy-industrial-tribal complex, just like the military-industrial complex of the 1950s."
"Off Balance Sheet Reporting"
Further investigations of past Reliant business practices include alleged double selling of power in California, profiting from price spikes during a trial period of energy deregulation in Texas, and SEC inquiries into possible earnings reporting inconsistencies. In addition, due to the current shakiness of energy company shares due to the Enron fallout, the future of Reliant may belong in the hands of European companies. Information detailing these issues are below:
- In a Yahoo News article titled, "Calif. AG sues four firms for double-selling power," published 3/11/2002, CA Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, named Reliant as one of four energy generators that allegedly sold CA emergency electricity that was never provided.
According to Lockyer, "These companies fattened their wallets at the expense of the safety and reliability of the transmission system serving Californians."
The lawsuits, which seek more than $150 million in penalties, restitution and return profits, allege that the four firms double-sold power beginning in 1998 through the state's power crisis last year. In addition, Lockyer alleges that the firms racked up millions of dollars in profits for emergency generating capacity that was never provided.
According to that article, "The action comes as the attorney general is also targeting a number of power generators for alleged price gouging during the state's electricity crisis last year. That power crisis pushed PG&E Corp.'s (California's biggest utility) into bankruptcy protection and caused rolling blackouts for tens of thousands of residents.
- According to a Yahoo News article titled, "Texas Energy Companies May Have Profited From Price Spikes," published 3/26/2002, the Public Exchange Commission is investigating five Texas based energy companies of price overcharges of up to 43 million dollars that occurred during a pilot program deregulation in that state. Reliant Energy is one of the companies under investigation.
- From a Dow Jones article titled Reliant Resources Cooperating With Informal Inquiry: (4/5/2002)
The Securities and Exchance Commission (SEC) is informally inquiring into Reliant's restatement of second and third quarter earnings. According to the article:
On Feb. 5 , the company said the restatement would increase earnings for the second and third quarters by $100 million to $130 million, as it recognized profits in 2001 that it had expected to record in 2002 and 2003. The restatment stemmed from a reassessment of how the company accounted for derivative instruments.
- In a Reuters article published 3/30/2002 titled, "Utilities Consolidation at Crossroads," Reliant is mentioned as a utilities company who's share values have dropped sharply and so tops a list of potential takeover targets. "Wall Street bankers say companies like these are being closely studied by utilities like Duke Energy Corp. and Dominion Resources and a number of European players."