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.\\ e4 Austin’s Largest Selection of International folk Art, Silver Jewelry and Textiles lrES C:0 C:10 FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD CONGRESS AVEAUSTIN 512/479-8377 rOP EN DAILY 10-6 KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, creates innovative television that inspires and educates not just in Austin, but throughout all of Texas. KLRU explores politics with Texas Monthly Talks; makes learning fun with The Biscuit Brothers and Central Texas Gardener; and showcases live music with Austin City Limits. Look for these KLRU programs on your local PBS stations. klru tv and beyond The Wylys were early investors in Green Mountain’s precursor and bought the privately held company outright from a Vermont utility in 1997. Sam Wyly himself chaired Green Mountain’s board before BP and the Dutch utility N.V. Nuon bought major stakes in the company in 2000. For the past three years, Sam Wyly’s son Evan has chaired Green Mountain’s board. Executives of BP and the Wylys’ Ranger Capital have occupied other seats on the board. As of last year, the Wyly family and related entities controlled 36 percent of Green Mountain stock. Wyly-founded Maverick Capital, where Evan Wyly also works, controlled another 12 percent. Yet it is unclear what these stakes in this privately held company are worth today. Citing the company’s chronic losses, a Maverick official told Senate investigators that the hedge fund recently downgraded the market value of its Green Mountain stock to zero. A Maverick Capital official declined a request to comment for this article. While Green Mountain officials refuse to discuss their investors, the company disputed the notion that it is in dire financial straits. “Over the last several years we have been growing profitably, have been cash-flow positive, and have not required any additional external funding,” the company says in a written statement. Another major Green Mountain investor with legal and public relations problems is London-based oil giant BR Around the time that BP and Amoco Corp. merged in 1998, BP recast itself as an enlightened energy giant, suggesting that its initials no longer stood for “British Petroleum” but for “Beyond Petroleum.” BP’s leadership acknowledged a scientific consensus linking fossil fuels to global warming. And the company made significant investments in renewable energy venturesincluding Green Mountain. Yet this image of the planet’s No. 2 oil giant has been battered recently by disasters worthy of the most infamous corporate citizens. BP’s sprawling Texas City refinery suffered an enormous explosion in March 2005, injuring 170 people and killing 15. A subsequent federal probe hit BP with a record $21 million fine for 300 health and safety violations. Federal investigators became so disturbed by evidence of a lax safety culture that they issued an unprecedented call for safety reviews of all five of BP’s North American refineries. At the same time, the aging pipeline that BP operates in Alaska already was under federal investigation for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act this March, when it dumped a record 200,000 gallons of oil onto the tundra. BP’s chief executive, John Browne, quickly flew in from London to the scenes of both the Texas City and Alaska disasters, pledging to fix the root causes of the problems. Asked if these disasters should concern Green Mountain customers, Washingtonbased BP spokesperson Sarah Howell says that BP owns 18 percent of Green Mountain but exercises no control over the company. As a result, she says BP’s woes have nothing to do with Green Mountain. “There is no tie between any of that,” Howell says. Declining to be quoted, an environmentalist with Green Mountain ties called the Observer to warn that negative publicity about the Wylys and BP should not be allowed to harm Green Mountain and its clean-energy mission. Green Mountainwhich has urged con sumers to consider where their kilowatts come fromunderstandably prefers not to focus on the major stakes that the Wylys and BP have in the company. Yet consumers in deregulated markets are required to weigh the pros and cons of competing providers. Green Mountain’s ownership may muddy this equation for some discriminating customers. Contributing writer Andrew Wheat is research director for Austin-based Texans for Public Justice. OCTOBER 6, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13