WASHINGTON, June 20 /CNW/ -- The chief enforcement officer of the U.S.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Wednesday expressed confidence
that the federal government can adequately monitor the expanding physical and
financial energy markets.
At a Platts Energy Podium roundtable with reporters, FERC Office of
Enforcement Director Susan Court emphasized the commission's enforcement
efforts as members of Congress and state officials increasingly call on
federal regulators to explain rising oil, natural gas and electricity prices.
"FERC, without a doubt, has joined the ranks of federal enforcement
agencies," Court said. "Its ability to enforce its rules and orders issued to
carry out its responsibilities is as great as any federal agency in the
Court addressed concerns that the commission either does not have enough
regulatory and investigative tools to monitor the vast gas and power markets,
or is not using them to the extent it should. She insisted that FERC
investigators have "adequate tools" in terms of information and authority to
monitor markets and enforce laws barring manipulation.
Coming off the market breakdown of the Western energy crisis in 2000-01
and the price spikes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congress strengthened
FERC's authority in 2005 to aggressively pursue instances of market
manipulation and penalize energy companies that ignore federal regulations or
try to defraud customers.
FERC has authority under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to impose fines of
up to $1 million per day per violation of regulations.
Congress and states have ramped up the pressure on FERC and its chairman,
Joseph Kelliher, to keep a close eye on trading in the financial futures
markets that impact the physical gas and power markets.
"We have adequate tools to do that," Court said, adding that a nearly
doubling of enforcement staff in the past five years is enough to oversee the
interrelated physical and future markets.
Kelliher has supported changes in staffing to do just that, she said. "To
the extent that we see a need, he's never said no. We have access to
sufficient information, but we also have staff that understands the
relationship between those markets."
Sponsored by Platts, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Platts
Energy Podium provides an ongoing forum for prominent newsmakers and the press
to address important energy and environmental issues. Credentialed members of
the media may receive complementary registration for Energy Podium events by
contacting Nancy Covey at 202-942-8719, Nancy_Covey@platts.com. A recording of
the Susan Court session is available via podcast at
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