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I am not a big fan of Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch. That having been said, I agree with his public statement that CEO Wayne Brunetti should step down or be removed as head of Xcel Energy.

Hindsight is always 20:20, but when you get paid $2.8 mil+ (source Yahoo! Finance) per year, you ought to have your finger on the pulse of your industry a little better than Mr. Brunetti has.

Did NRG seemed like a great deal to Mr. Brunetti, or did it seem like a good deal to investors and analysts? It seems clear to me that Brunetti's Xcel believed, as many of us did, that there was an energy shortage. Now we find out this this energy shortage is not a reality but an Enron induced gimmick. Energy companies buying and selling from themselves, increasing the apparent demand to create market scarcity, artificially driving up their own revenues.

I am left believing that Brunetti is either dishonest, like Enron, or is an uninformed dupe, like me.

If Brunetti's Xcel was cheating, even if he didn't know, he should have and should be gone now. If they weren't cheating, then explain it to me. When they build a power plant they have models of demand that include population growth rates. People in the industry have to be able to run the numbers, compute what the demand should be, compare that to the capacity of the power sources and determine if there should theoretically be a shortage. I can't do that - I don't have the numbers - but they certainly can.

I have done it on a smaller scale for municipal water and wastewater utilities. The concept is the same, only on a larger scale both geographically and financially.

So if they did this type of demand analysis, they had to have discovered there was plenty of energy out there and so they would not have bought the plants unless they planned on cheating - cashing in on the artificial lack of supply.

If they didn't do this type of analysis, what business did they have pouring billions into power production?

I don't think that Brunetti is dishonest, I think he is stupid. NRG was his idea. The buyback this year was his idea. They didn't do a thorough demand analysis. They listened to the hype and analysts and then went out and bought plants. They bought all over the world - did they really know those markets? No, they simply wanted to get big and become the next Enron. They wanted to impress the analysts, not run a great business.

Xcel needs to rid themselves of Brunetti and NRG. Brunetti won't dump it himself - that would be an admission of failure - and so they both need to go. NRG is insolvent. It has more debt than assets. Letting it go bankrupt is good for Xcel shareholders. So is a change in leadership.

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