FERC Awards Itself High Marks for '99 Performance
In a fiscal year 1999 performance report card submitted to
Congress and the White House, the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission gave itself high marks for furthering competition in the
natural gas and electricity markets, citing the mega gas rule
(Order 637), the RTO decision (Order 2000) and its FERC First
initiative as proof of its progress.
The Commission has met the "spirit" of the Governmental
Performance and Results Act (GPRA), which requires the annual
reviews, by "examining its performance measures, identifying
inadequacies in the markets and instituting major initiatives to
address the problems," it said in the yearly performance
evaluation, which along with a "State of the Markets 2000" report
became publicly available last week.
In the gas market, for example, FERC had observed that
disparities in inter-regional spot prices had created a "value for
transportation which was at times far in excess of what pipeline
companies could charge for the service," the report said.
Consequently, the Commission determined there was a need for a
"major rulemaking" addressing the price caps in the short-term
transportation market, which subsequently led to the
ground-breaking Order 637 in February, it noted.
FERC further believes it has made a lot of headway in reducing
market-power abuses in the natural gas, electric and oil
transportation markets. But it conceded the best way to gauge its
performance on this issue is through "discussions with the industry
and its customers." Although it met with a number of customers
during its FERC reinvention effort, the Commission said it needs to
get "closer" to customers.
For this reason, FERC noted it was in the process of seeking
blanket approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) so
it can survey customer "perceptions of how well the Commission is
mitigating market power in the natural gas and electric
industries." It said it hopes to begin the surveys this year.
FERC also reported it did a bang-up job of approving gas
pipeline certificates within their targeted deadlines in 1999. The
Commission grouped the certificate filings into four categories:
prior- notice filings (small cases), unprotested filings, protested
filings and cases of first impression that involve larger policy
implications. It estimated it reviewed 261 prior-notice cases last
year, with each filing completed in an average of 57 days, just
shy of its 56-day target. Unprotested certificate cases totaled
174, with each filing completed in 152 days, ahead of the targeted
159 days. Thirty protested certificate cases came before FERC in
1999, and each case on average was reviewed within the targeted 304
days, according to the report. The cases of first impression, 39 in
all, also met their target of 365 days for each filing.
The Commission said it's been able to reduce the processing time
for certificates through the use of collaborative procedures and
early involvement of its staff, and through the use of a new pilot
program that allows for third-party, independent monitoring of a
pipeline project's compliance with environmental conditions.
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