The Staff of the Office of Enforcement ("OE") of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") on November 17, 2022, released its sixteenth Annual Report on Enforcement. The report highlights the activities carried out by OE's Division of Audits and Accounting ("DAA"), Division of Investigations ("DOI"), as well as the Division of Analytics ("DAS").
The report compels all participants operating the energy market regulated by FERC to continue emphasizing annual reporting and compliance. With the increase in investigations, DAS's surveillance activities scope, and resolution of most self-reports without further probes or penalties, it's clear that FERC values a strong compliance culture and prioritizes enforcement activities.
FERC's Strategic Plan, OE's Priorities, and Enforcement Activities
OE's priorities comply with FERC's March 28, 2022, Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026. The strategic plan outlines FERC's principal missions, which include accounting for significant supply-side dynamics in the organized electricity markets caused by changes in the fuel mix of resources involved in those markets.
Other principle missions include addressing the increasing threats to the nation's energy infrastructure and ensuring consumers' access to economically efficient, reliable, safe, and secure energy at a reasonable cost.
The plan indicates the following three goals to achieve the outlined OE's missions.
- Ensure just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions of service.
- Promote safe, reliable, and secure infrastructure consistent with the public interest.
- Promote organizational excellence.
In light of the goals outlined in the strategic plan, the report indicated OE's recent enforcement priorities, including fraud and market manipulation, serious violations of the reliability standards, anticompetitive conduct, threats to the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and associated impacts on the environment, surrounding communities, and conduct that threatens transparency in regulated markets.
In FY2022, FERC and OE engaged in vigorous oversight and enforcement efforts, with DOI staff receiving 124 self-reports from market participants and closed 126 self-reports. DAA completed 12 audits of public utilities, natural gas and oil pipelines, and regional transmission organizations. The audits resulted in 51 findings of noncompliance, 258 recommendations for corrective action, and directed approximately $158 million in refunds and other recoveries.