Electric Avenues

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Electric Avenues

Deregulating utilities would only increase his power.

by Rachel Burstein

#53 Kenneth and Linda Lay, Houston, Texas. Party: Both. $224,400 total contributions.

View the Lays’ itemized contributions.

Kenneth Lay Kenneth Lay wants to light up your life. The head of Enron Corp., America’s largest seller of natural gas and electricity to utility companies, Lay hopes his company will become the “AT&T for the electricity business.” He’s lobbied Congress to let him sell directly to consumers.

Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.) has introduced a helpful bit of deregulatory legislation that Lay hopes will net $30 billion in new business for his company alone. “We’re in communication with Enron all the time,” says Schaefer’s press secretary, Dana Perino.

Lay has testified that consumers could save $80 billion annually under deregulation. But environmentalists argue that unbridled competition could worsen pollution as providers turn to cheaper fuels such as coal. Constancy of service is another concern.

“It’s not like deregulating your cable company,” says Adrienne Mitchem of the Consumers Union. “If you lose electricity, it can mean life or death.”

Photo Credit: Dan Holmes

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