UMC Links

Finance Professor Appointed to Energy Pricing Investigation Team

June 4, 2002 — Recent assertions of the possibility of price manipulation in California and the West by Enron or other energy providers/brokers has prompted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conduct a fact-finding investigation. Dr. Hendrik Bessembinder, Blaine Huntsman Professor of Finance at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, will serve on the investigating committee, along with two other academics, two energy analyst consultants, and members of the FERC staff.

FERC appointed Bessembinder in April, and he will continue to serve in this capacity until the group has completed its investigation. The Committee will probe the trades and practices of energy companies, including Enron, to ascertain whether they manipulated short-term and long-term electric and natural gas energy prices from January 1, 2000 to the present. The other academics appointed to committee are Dr. Robert Pindyk of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Dr. Chester Spatt of Carnegie Mellon University.

Bessembinder’s research has focused on derivative securities markets, transactions costs, market microstructure, risk pricing, and risk management. He recently co-authored a paper with Assistant Professor of Finance Mike Lemmon on the competitive pricing of long-term electricity contracts, which will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Finance.

“Congress has asked us to determine the facts in this very public issue, and I’m happy to be involved in clarifying this complex situation,” Bessembinder said.