Niagara Mohawk

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Aug 20 10:46:09 MDT 2003

NY Press

Finding NiMo
George Pataki is shocked, shocked by the power outage.
by Matt Taibbi

Here’s a fun activity you New York blackout veterans might want to try: 
Go online and check out the website of Niagara Mohawk 
(, the Western New York utility that has been 
fingered as the possible culprit in last week’s hilarious, ridiculous 
power outage. It’s a boring site, no question–not exactly But the banner at the top of the page is interesting. 
It reads:

Niagara Mohawk, a National Grid Company.

That’s what the site’s looked like for about three years now, or ever 
since the London-based National Grid Company bought Niagara Mohawk in 
September 2000. Some of you might be surprised to learn that an American 
utility–a thing indispensable to daily life and national security–can be 
owned by a foreign company. I know I was, when I first became a Niagara 
Mohawk customer in Buffalo last year. Niagara Mohawk, or NiMo, as it’s 
commonly known, is a popular villain in the press in Western New York 
(particularly in what passes for an alternative press there).

Among other things, it’s one of about a gazillion giant companies to 
announce major layoffs in the area in recent years. The NiMo layoffs 
came in the wake of the $8.9 billion buyout, which was announced on 
September 5, 2000. At the time of the buyout, National Grid USA 
announced plans to eliminate between 500 and 750 jobs, or somewhere 
between five and eight percent of its total workforce.

Wall Street liked that news. On September 1, 2000, before the National 
Grid rumors started, NiMo’s share price was $13.87. On the day of the 
announcement, it was $15.75. Ultimately, National Grid USA hopes to 
eliminate as many as 950 jobs. Meanwhile the NiMo corporate officers who 
signed off on the buyout deal rode into the sunset. CEO William Davis 
left with a golden-parachute payment of $2.7 million, and he and nine 
others were kept on staff at four times their annual salary. The NiMo 
deal, National Grid itself and the blackout all have a common ancestor: 
energy deregulation.


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