Public Utilities Fortnightly and POWERdat®
Matthew Joyce is a research associate at E Source, a membership-based research and advisory organization that is part of Platts. E Source specializes in critical strategic, marketing, and technology issues deriving from utility restructuring that face utilities, competitive entities, and customers.
Some large commercial and industrial customers who had signed energy contracts with the now-bankrupt Enron are forced to pay their utility bills a second time.
Although it is difficult to say how widely this double-billing phenomenon is spread, E Source has contacted dozens of corporate energy managers who had signed energy or energy services contracts with Enron. In several cases, energy managers paid Enron for their energy and distribution costs, but Enron failed to remit payment to the local distribution company. With Enron stuck in Chapter 11 reorganization hearings, the distributors have not been paid, so they have issued a duplicate bill to the end user. In a couple of cases, shut-off notices accompanied duplicate bills.
"We're looking at these bills and saying, 'Hold on a minute,'" said one corporate energy manager who asked not to be identified. "We don't even have a contract with these guys. Our contract was with Enron." Nevertheless, these bills are generating concern among current and former Enron clients.