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Power Grid Investigates Employee

February 25, 2005|James F. Peltz | Times Staff Writer

California's power-grid operator said Thursday that it was investigating an employee who might have shared confidential data with someone outside the agency.

The California Independent System Operator declined to say what type of information was involved or how the possible leak was discovered. The agency also declined to release the names of those involved, but said the Cal-ISO employee was placed on leave.

People familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified, said the worker provided power-generation data to a former Cal-ISO employee who works as a consultant in the energy industry. Details of that information or its commercial value couldn't be determined Thursday.

Cal-ISO is "taking immediate actions to identify what information has been disclosed and what data, if any, is confidential," Cal-ISO Chairman Ken Wiseman said in a statement.

The agency also said it advised state and federal officials of its investigation and hired a law firm to help with the probe.

"Obviously we have enough concern about it that we have retained an outside counsel to advise us," said Cal-ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle. The agency is investigating whether the data "falls into the category of [being] market-sensitive information," she said.

Based in Folsom, Cal-ISO is charged with managing the flow of electricity through much of California's transmission system, a mandate it obtained in 1998 as part of California's deregulation plan.

The agency keeps substantial data on power prices, supplies, generation, markets, and buyers and sellers of electricity. Cal-ISO also operates a limited market for electricity. In 2002, Cal-ISO revealed that one of its electricity traders shared secret bidding information with an Enron Corp. trader. Cal-ISO fired the employee, who wasn't identified.

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